MONTPELIER — Citizens of Montpelier made known their dissent of any possible medicinal marijuana dispensary in the village Monday evening.
The Montpelier Village Council discussed the idea at their April 26 meeting after Megan Hausch, executive director of the Williams County Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO), inquired to village officials about whether they’d be open to it.
The citizens responded and a petition was circulated gathering around 60 signatures in opposition to the idea.
GayLynn Harris presented the petition to the council, saying such a facility would be a “huge setback” to the community.
“Numerous men and women are working hard to better this community and to see it move forward from past struggles economically and in reputation from being a drug-riddled community,” she said. “We believe such a facility undermines the way we want to grow economically, spiritually and physically.”
In addition, having such a facility would be detrimental to the future of the children, family and community.
Harris said she moved to Montpelier with her husband Don around 45 years ago and has seen a great improvement from where the community was. She said her son was into the drug scene for 10 years.
“We have a personal concern for others like him,” she said. “He now has had a whole transformation and he’s working for the betterment of the community. Our heart is for our children and progress forward.”
Councilwoman Melissa Ewers said she appreciated the petition and hearing from the community, but believed medicinal marijuana was different from “street marijuana.”
People who have conditions that can benefit from marijuana treatment are often stigmatized, she added.
“In order to help ease that stigma, we can be part of that by just saying, ‘Yes, we would consider it,’” Ewers said. “The likelihood that it would happen is small but it gives the idea that Montpelier would be open to new things.”
She also said being open to having a medicinal marijuana dispensary could be a positive for the community and bring in more and different industry to the area.
Montpelier also has laws on the books limiting where such a business could be located.
“I have a hard time saying no to something that is so stigmatized that can help and be beneficial to people,” Ewers said.
Councilman Don Schlosser said he not only agreed with the petition but he signed it.
He said the village is already moving in the right direction.
“I think our police department has done an excellent job in trying to get this town cleaned up,” Schlosser said. “I think we’re definitely a progressive community ... I’ve heard more than once out of people in this room that we are a community of faith. And I believe if that comes here that’s just going to move us backward and not forward in the direction we want to go.”
Councilman Kevin Motter said he also agreed with the petition, saying just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s right.
He didn’t believe the community and council should encourage marijuana use.
“People can go to other communities and purchase whatever they want; I feel there’s just as many people willing to live and work in a community that does not put the stamp of approval on medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, any time of marijuana,” he said. “We have worked hard to try to make things better.”