The Salem City Council heard comments from both sides of allowing marijuana dispensary sales, but made no decision Monday night.
Councilman Nic Farley feels since adult use of marijuana will become legal on January first, the city should take a positive view towards the dispensaries.
“If we don’t act on this, other communities are and prohibition doesn’t work. It’s not going to stop anyone from going to get it, it’s going be brought into our community no matter what so we might as well get the revenue from it.”
Councilman Jim Koehler concurred.
Salem Police Chief Sean Reynolds made it clear as a police officer he feels the legalization of marijuana was a bad idea but does not oppose the dispensaries.
“We are going to enforce it anyway, with or without extra funding, just the same. It won’t take anymore or less people that are going to purchase it whether that dispensary is here, Centralia, Mt Vernon or Effingham, it will be the same amount of people but we would be receiving zero funds extra to enforce the law.”
But two ministers in attendance speaking only for themselves and not their churches asked the council not to participate. The minister at the Salem First Baptist Church Andy Dewitt pointed to the bad he sees coming out of the new law.
“Just because it’s legal does not make it right. And this isn’t right. It’s like the video game in this respect. It doesn’t bring money into the community it takes money out. It literally takes food out of the mouth of children.”
The Associate Pastor at Salem First Baptist, Jon Bell, asked the Salem City Council to stand tall and take a position against marijuana.
“I see gambling, I see hard liquor sales and that’s not small-town values. You guys want to add more to that sightline. Where will you draw the line.”
The negative comments drew Robert McGaughy Junior who came to the meeting for another purpose to share his viewpoints.
“I didn’t really think we needed recreational marijuana you know I kind of thought we didn’t need that. But on the medical side of things, it has really helped a lot of people. If you go to the dispensaries you know who you see there…your grandma’s, doctors, neighbors you don’t see drug addicts walking up trying to get their next fix.”
McGaughy says he would like to have a local dispensary so he doesn’t have to drive to Effingham.
The council is expected to have further discussion at their next meeting.
Councilman Farley asked for the city attorney to review city ordinances dealing with possession of cannabis and remove those that are now in contradiction to the new state law legalizing adult use of marijuana. Those changes will also come before the city council at its next meeting.