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Lakewood Votes To Opt Out Of Marijuana Dispensaries

Pictured are members of the Lakewood Village Board during a meeting Monday evening. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

LAKEWOOD — Marijuana will not officially be available for retail sale in dispensaries, shops or consumption locations in the village of Lakewood.

The Lakewood Village Board voted unanimously in favor of opting out after a spirited public hearing Monday evening.

Various community members attended the hearing, the second held this month, with some in favor of allowing the retail sale of marijuana in the village, while many were not in favor. Those in favor cited the use of marijuana in medical situations, as well as the revenue it could bring the village. Others pointed out that alcohol is legal, despite the number of accidents and cases of addiction that it causes.

“How many families have been ruined by alcohol?” One community member asked.

Another community member explained the effective use of marijuana in easing pain, anxiety and other ailments.

Those against the sale of marijuana in the village offered personal experiences of the negative impact of marijuana on the community, including Richard Peterson, a former school administrator.

“I’ve seen it destroy family after family after family,” he said. “If you make this decision, you’d better be prepared because a lot of things come with it.”

Several members of the public stated the impact of approving medical marijuana sales would be detrimental to Lakewood.

“If this board votes it in, you’ll be looking for a new job,” one person quipped.

Members of the public questioned whether the legislation is against medical marijuana use, which Mayor Randy Holcomb confirmed it is not.

Each village trustee was given time to make a statement before the vote. Trustee Douglas Schutte said he believes medical marijuana “has its place,” but “recreational marijuana does not.”

“I agree with that,” Holcomb said.

Trustee Ellen Barnes said with her experience in law enforcement, she has seen the impact of marijuana. She said she also understands the need for medical marijuana but does not see the merit in recreational marijuana.

“When you get into the recreational aspect of it, it is a psychotropic drug, which means that it has the ability to change your brain chemistry, which it does,” Barnes said. “Therefore, it’s a very, very enticing drug that leads people on to other drugs. So, I think we need to take that into consideration. The mechanism and how it works biochemically is very different from that of alcohol, so comparing the two isn’t exactly apples to apples or oranges to oranges.”

Barnes said society currently has a problem with addiction that shouldn’t be added to. She said marijuana can impact the function of young and vulnerable people’s brains.

“Since your brain isn’t totally formed until you’re 25-years-old, it can be extremely detrimental to young people and vulnerable people, and goes with further addiction,” Barnes said. “We have enough of a problem in our society right now; why would we want to add more to it so we have more people warped out of their minds and entice them to do something that maybe they would not have done? The damage is done — marijuana is no longer illegal; however, I will say it has a lot of negatives to it.”

Trustee Edward McCague said with the information the board has at the current moment, “the most responsible thing for the board of trustees to do is to opt-out.”

“It is a statement (that) reflects the wishes of some residents, and at the same time, that preserves the option of the village to opt back in, when maybe we know more about the whole situation and can make a more informed choice about whether or not we want to do that,” McCague said. “That will all be left to a future board.”

After discussion, the board unanimously approved the measure to opt out of marijuana sales and dispensaries within the village limits. Municipalities have until Dec. 31 to decide whether to opt out, which requires a local law.

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