City holds final public hearing on medical marijuana facilities ordinances
THREE RIVERS — On Tuesday, March 6, the Three Rivers city commission held a public hearing on two proposed medical marijuana facilities ordinances pertaining to the zoning and operation of medical marijuana facilities within city limits, and set a vote on the matter for the commission’s next meting on Tuesday, March 20.
David Benac, a Democratic candidate running for the 6th Congressional District seat, spoke in favor of the ordinances during the public hearing.
“It’s an issue I feel very strongly about and we should be considering it in our communities as a positive good,” he said.
Benac said medical marijuana could help the 6th district address the opioid epidemic that’s plaguing St. Joseph County and surrounding communities.
“We know that marijuana is a positive treatment for this. Matter of the fact, the state of New Mexico has implemented a program to use medical marijuana as a way to work people off of opioid addictions. It works really well for chronic pain, and yes, it can be a habit-forming drug but it is not a physically addictive drug. So it’s a good way to walk people off that addiction,” Benac said, adding that medical marijuana also helps people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Benac also addressed concerns over conflicting state and federal laws regarding the use, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana.
“Yes, the federal government has scheduled marijuana as a Class I substance but even the federal government is not sticking to that rule. Within the federal budget every single year, for over a decade, there’s been what’s called a Blumenauer amendment and it’s approved every single year. And what that says is that the federal government cannot use any DOJ money to prosecute anyone who’s operating legally within their state laws. So just right there the federal government is conflicting with its own policy, and I think that in itself is part of a justification that if you come up with better policies that help the people in our communities, that we have some rights to do that,” Benac said.
Mayor Tom Lowry and Commissioners Carolyn McNary and Janell Hart made comments concerning the ordinances during Tuesday’s meeting. Lowry said suggested changes have been made to both ordiances “over the last three months,” most of which are “not substantive” and have “strictly been (correcting) typos.”
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