Medical cannabis discussed by Pineville council

Published 10:56 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

How to best deal with the legalization of medical marijuana was discussed at Monday’s Pineville City Council meeting. Medical cannabis will be legal in Kentucky starting on January 1, 2025. Those who would like to operate as cultivators, processors, producers, dispensaries, and safety compliance facilities can apply for licenses between July 1 and August 31.

Mayor Scott Madon explained that each city and county has the option of approving medical cannabis locally so they can set up their own regulations.

“Just because we approve it doesn’t mean someone will get a license for a dispensary in Pineville or Bell County,” he said. “As a local government we have four options. One is to do nothing and then the state regulations will apply and we won’t have any zoning authority. We could vote yes and then it’s going to be set up with regulatory fees similar to our alcohol licenses. We could vote no and nobody could apply for a license here or we could put it on the ballot.”

Email newsletter signup

The state has been divided into 11 regions that can each have up to four dispensaries, with Fayette and Jefferson County each being allowed two more for a total of 48 dispensaries in the state. There is a nonrefundable $5,000 application fee for dispensaries. If more than four applications are received in a region a lottery will be held in October to determine which ones will receive a license. The initial license fee is $30,000 with an annual renewal fee of $15,000.

Bell County is included in Region 5 with Harlan, Knox, Laurel, Whitley, McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Lincoln, Casey, Wayne, Russell, Clinton and Cumberland counties.

Madon said the topic was discussed last week during a Kentucky League of Cities meeting and about 75 percent of the cities represented there were planning to approve it and set up their own regulations.

“I personally don’t see a financial windfall from it. With alcohol sales I knew that could potentially be good because the taxes go to our police department,” Madon said. “Nobody really knows how this is going to work. Some of the folks in counties that border states (without medical cannabis) feel like they could see a financial windfall.”

“Where I am sympathetic about doing it is for people like cancer patients, children with epilepsy, PTST, high anxiety, different things that it could be a preventative for.”

Madon said he thought the council should vote next month to either allow medical cannabis so they can regulate where a dispensary would go in the city or to not allow it at all, but added he didn’t have a strong preference either way.

State regulations only say that a dispensary can’t be located within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare.

After some discussion, it was decided that a town hall meeting to give citizens a chance to let their feelings be known was a good idea. Madon said he would put out some feelers on social media and announce a time and date for the town hall at the Bell Theater before the next council meeting.

“The city of Middlesboro and the county will also have to make a decision on this and hopefully we’ll all be on the same page,” Madon said. “We’ll have to make a decision next month.”

In other business, the council passed the second reading of the Fiscal Year 2024-25 Budget Ordinance. The budget includes a 50-cent per hour raise for all city employees.

“I think we’ve got a very good budget. All of the employees got a raise and every department is getting some new equipment or new vehicles,” Madon said. “We took care of everybody and put $60,000 in Parks & Recreation for a zip cruise zip line for the park in Newtown. I’ve already ordered that.”

The budget ordinance was approved unanimously by the council.

They also approved a resolution authorizing Madon to apply for $1 million in state funds from House Bill 1 for the Courthouse Square streetscape project.

Work has started on the project with a crew cutting into the road to lay underground conduit to house the power and phone lines.

“We’re well underway with the project and these are things they have to do first so KU can come in and take their poles down,” Madon said. “We’re full steam ahead, but we’re going to see a lot of destruction before we start seeing construction. They’ll be tearing a lot of stuff down and tearing stuff up before we start building it back.”

Johnna Callebs gave the council a Main Street report. She shared that the new mural has been completed at the minipark and the year’s first Wet-n-Wild Wednesday was a big success.

“We had inflatables from Jared Nunnelley from AL’s Inflatables, Long’s Pic-Pac donated ice cream for all of the kids and we always want to thank Pineville Interact and the Rotary Club for volunteering to supervise,” she said.

The next Wet-n-Wild Wednesday will be on June 19 from 11-2 at Presbyterian Field.

Main Street Pineville also helps sponsor the Laurel Cove Music Festival, which was held last weekend.

“Jon Grace does such a great job with that and it’s just unreal that we have something like that right here at Pine Mountain State Park in our own back yard,” Callebs said. “Rita Edmondson at the park was actually talking about taking some trees down to make more room in the Cove. It sells out in minutes every year.”

Upcoming events in downtown Pineville include the Ducks and Truck Car Show on June 22; Movie Monday at Presbyterian Field on June 24 with Wish being shown on an inflatable screen; Dog Days of Summer on June 27 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the city park where Main Street will be making a big announcement.

Pineville’s annual fireworks display will be on July 3.