City councils voted 7-2 in favor of amendments to an ordinance allowing the limited use of medicinal cannabis on designated city-owned properties.
The change removes two locations in Honor Heights Park that were previously approved by city councils as locations for the city-approved medical marijuana events. The use of medical cannabis is permitted during permitted events in designated areas in Hatbox Field and the Muskogee Civic Center.
A medical marijuana event is defined as an event that is “open to the public regardless of the price of admission”, is attended by at least 50 people, and is conducted “primarily for educational purposes”. To meet this criterion, “at least 70% of the event program must be dedicated to the“ presentation of scientific, agricultural or pharmacological research, methods, findings or applications ”.
Event sponsors must provide event usage guidelines, programming and promotional materials when applying for permits for an event. The distribution and use of cannabis products during an event must comply with state laws.
District Councilor Ivory Vann, one of two dissidents, said the use of cannabis products should be banned on all city-owned properties. While endorsing the state’s medical cannabis industry and its benefits to patients, Vann said licensing its use on urban lots could get out of hand and blur the line between medicinal and recreational use.
“I saw two events here in our city with my own eyes,” said Vann, preferring an argument that raised objections from the mayor and another councilor. “Hearing all the swearing and seeing them throw blunts.”
Vann also raised concerns about legal liability risks that could arise from the regulation.
“There is definitely no way that you can take medication and be safe when you drive,” Vann said after a committee meeting last week. “If you have that in your system and drive, you will be a danger to others. I will not have that in my consciousness.”
City Attorney Roy Tucker said any liability that might arise in such a situation would fall “on the organizer” of a medical marijuana event. He said the city requires sponsors of any event held at a city-owned venue to also have liability insurance that covers the event.
Rules enacted earlier this year limited the use of cannabis on urban premises to medical marijuana events held at the Honor Heights Park Papilion Event Lawn, Honor Heights Amphitheater, Hatbox Field, and the south parking lot of the Muskogee Civic Center. The amended regulation restricts use to tents in the southwest area of Hatbox Field and in the south parking lot of the Civic Center.
Proponents of the regulation said that providing space for licensed patients to use medicinal cannabis during these events “will improve our opportunities through tourism and economic development.” They said event sponsors have historically declined Muskogee to host because attendees were unable to “take medication” on the premises.
Provisions of the April 12th Directive that do not contradict the amended regulation remain in force.