Council Presented With Cannabis Concerns
A local resident voiced concerns to the City Council during Monday’s voting session regarding the city administration’s level of involvement in promoting the cannabis industry.
Local resident Doug Champ presented concerns regarding statements Mayor Eddie Sundquist made during his State of the City address, which was released to the public Monday afternoon.
“There were comments in there that I found not only absurd but really questioning in terms of what the information was generated,” he said. “It was cited in his address that hundreds of jobs were going to be created here in the cannabis industry. I’m all for innovation but I’m not for identifying hundreds of jobs as a viable economic development plan for the city of Jamestown, especially in this business.”
During his State of the City address, Sundquist described the city’s “aggressive approach” to developing the cannabis industry in Jamestown. He proposed that the cannabis industry would “create hundreds of job opportunities,” as well as provide opportunities for vacant properties to be redeveloped into cannabis businesses.
“Jamestown, with the help of our industry partners, will become an innovation center for the budding cannabis industry,” he said.
While Sundquist highlighted what he believes are the potential benefits of the cannabis industry, Champ argued that the number of jobs that will be created by the industry will be far less than city officials predict. Champ encouraged City Council members to examine how many people are actually employed by cannabis dispensaries.
“My point is it’s not hundreds of jobs that are coming to Jamestown because of this, nor do we need hundreds and hundreds of cannabis jobs,” he said. “What we need is somebody that makes something besides weed.”
Champ proposed that the city concentrate on the “demand” for “large community cooperative food distribution,” rather than concentrate on the growth of the cannabis industry in the Jamestown community. He warned that while the cannabis industry promises a variety of benefits for the city, there may be unintended consequences “down the road.”
“I don’t want Jamestown, the city that I’ve worked in, to be identified as a cannabis empire,” he said. “I want to see more job creation opportunities talked about than hundreds of jobs with cannabis.”
While the City Council did not respond to Champ’s statements during Monday’s voting session, City Council members addressed the cannabis controversy following the meeting.
City Councilwoman Kim Ecklund, R-At Large, said she was “a little surprised” by some of Sundquist’s statements regarding the “level of involvement” of the city in the cannabis industry.
“This council hasn’t had an update, so we’re kind of a little blind on that one,” she said. “I don’t know really what’s going on with that.”
City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II, acknowledged the controversial nature of the cannabis industry but explained that the city has a “role to play” in the cannabis industry.
“We did not opt out, we are in,” he said. “There is an opportunity, obviously, to raise some revenue. I know there’s concerns by people in the community about getting into that business and promoting that business.”
Dolce explained that the city is currently waiting for the state to continue the process of developing the cannabis industry. Dolce emphasized that the cannabis industry is now legal across the state and that research is available in other states, such as Colorado, regarding both the “pros and cons” of the industry.
“I recently met with someone who’s in charge of the Cannabis Control Board in Denver, and she talked to me about the challenges, the pitfalls, the successes and so forth,” he said.
According to Dolce, the city of Denver raised about $70 million in revenue last year. While he acknowledged that Denver is a much larger city than Jamestown, he indicated that the opportunity is available for the city to raise revenue through the development of the cannabis industry.
On one hand, Dolce said a positive result of developing the cannabis industry is the increased level of control and regulation regarding the cultivation, sale and distribution of cannabis. He said that the regulations help reduce the issue of fentanyl problems in the distribution of cannabis.
On the other hand, Dolce acknowledged that some people view cannabis as a “gateway drug” that can cause problems or lead to issues with law enforcement.
“There’s a lot a lot of issues to work through,” he said, “but I know obviously it’s something that we’re going to be looking for down the road to how that’s going to be implemented either by the state and locally here in Jamestown.