DARLINGTON – After Lafayette County Chairman Jack Sauer stated there would be no clapping, shouting, whooping, hollering or snide comments under ones breathe during the public comment or the meeting, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors meeting proceeded on Tuesday, Oct. 15 where they passed the ordinance prohibiting marijuana establishments in the county.
Three members of the audience spoke during public comment on the marijuana establishment ordinance.
Ash Woolson of Argyle questioned whether it was legal for the county to pass this ordinance if, or when, the state legalizes medical marijuana, it would then be illegal for people to purchase their prescribed medicines in the county.
“They will have to go outside of the county to get their medicine. I’m not sure of the legality of that but what if you had to go out of the county to get medicine prescribed to you? Where does the logic stop?”, Woolson asked.
Steve Acheson of Blanchardville gave more information on cannabis and stating there were several facts in the resolution passed at the previous board meeting that were incorrect.
“Alcohol has killed more people than cannabis. It is not a gateway drug that you are making it out to be,” Acheson stated.
He went on to add that every major veteran organization in the state supports a state wide medical cannabis program, a statement he made at the previous meeting.
“I show up to offer testimony today as I have more times than I can count all around the state because I am trying to save my own life and the lives of so many veterans that have been over prescribed by the VA (Veterans Affairs) and doctors for service connected injuries that can easily be treated naturally with safer nonlethal alternatives,” Acheson said.
Jed Gant of Blanchardville, a former supervisor for District #8, firmly believed that many of the people in Lafayette County are against the legalization of marijuana at this time.
“I don’t feel it is right for the county right now. Today there has been enough proof that we don’t need marijuana in any way, shape or form. Look at the issues we have with alcohol without adding another piece to the puzzle,” Gant said.
After the reading of the ordinance, Gerald Heimann made a motion to accept the ordinance with Larry Ludlum seconding.
Robert Laeser questioned why the board was even making this ordinance if marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin. Jack Sauer stated it was in the event that the state does make it legal, it would be illegal to sell it in the county.
Steve Spensley asked if the ordinance could be changed at any time. Corporation Counsel Nathan Russell stated that they are an elected body so they are able to change it at any time.
Supervisor Scott Pedley said, “I believe I would be a hypocrite to vote against this since we just sent a resolution off to the state. It would send the state mixed messages.”
Sheriff Reg Gill gave some more incite into why the ordinance is being proposed.
“There are 33 states it is legal in; Illinois will be legal in January. Each state is independent of each other in their ordinances and rules. Based on information from two sheriffs in Colorado, they are not seeing money returned back at a local level to deal with issues they are dealing with,” Gill said.
“I think this is a poor political decision,” Spensley argued. “We want flood control money for this town.”
Sauer answered, “I’m not desperate enough to legalize marijuana to take that money. Looking at the state of Illinois, they were so desperate for money they are going to legalize it. We have enough problems in the county.”
Bob Boyle referred to an article he brought up at the previous meeting in the AARP magazine, which talks about the pros and cons of medical marijuana.
Pedley asked if there was anything in the ordinance that prevents residents from being able to obtain their medicinal prescribed marijuana.
Both Gill and Russell stated no with Gill adding they just can’t buy it in Lafayette County.
“This has nothing to do with possession,” Gill said.
Supervisor Kriss Marion added that she was disappointed the board was not sending this to referendum.
“We are a small body with an obvious demographic. We are sending a message to potential families, young people that might move in. We need to be open-minded. We are sending messages that are very damaging,” Marion said.
“If the legalization of marijuana is going to bring people in here, I’m not sure if that is the people we want here,” Jack contended.
Tony Ruesga asked how many supervisors have had their constituents contact them that were in favor of marijuana. He added that everyone that has spoken with him in his district has been against it.
“We have been dealing with this for months. People have had opportunities to talk to you and the only people here are from one side of the county. I don’t think many are in favor.
Marion wanted to make a motion to amend the ordinance to add the word “recreational” in front of the word “marijuana” throughout the document. Ursula Fecht seconded it.
There was then a disagreement between Pedley and Fecht where Fecht accused Pedley of mocking her under his breathe.
“I’m sorry but you said you were not surprised. Don’t heckle me and don’t belittle me,” Fecht argued.
A roll call vote was first taken on approving the amendment to the ordinance and it failed 6-10 with Boyle, Marion, Laeser, Fecht, Spensley and Rita Buchholz voting for the amendment.
Then a roll call was taken on the ordinance and it passed 11-5 with Boyle, Marion, Laeser, Fecht and Buchholz against.