A recent vote to not allow commercial marijuana grow operations inside of Pauls Valley's city limits looks to be a first step in addressing the issue on an even bigger scale.
The action came during a Pauls Valley City Council meeting as city officials are getting started with an effort to eventually come up with ordinances that lay out the rules for medical marijuana locally.
Assistant City Manager Don Wageman says the council's interest in the marijuana issue as a whole led to the involvement of the Pauls Valley Planning and Zoning Commission.
“The council had asked us to look at commercial grow houses,” Wageman said.
He was quick to add the zoning group did just that and even voted to turn down the commercial “grow houses,” which was quickly followed by the council action on July 13.
“We had no vehicle in our ordinances to deal with marijuana. We had been told to look at the whole picture. It's still growing – the need to address this in ordinances. We want to create a section for the city ordinances to deal with this issue.”
The idea is for the city to come with a more comprehensive section of new ordinances that deals specifically with medical marijuana.
During a meeting in late June the planning and zoning members voted to recommend to the council the need to establish this new section of ordinances.
Specifically, they recommend three parts to the proposed section with the first focused on definition, license and permits requirements, location restrictions, condition of operations and marijuana reserved.
The recommendation is for the second article to list out the specifics with commercial facilities, commercial growing facilities, wholesale marijuana facilities and marijuana storage facilities.
A third proposed article would focus on marijuana facilities for personal use.
“We haven't established the rules. What about tribal members and how this is going to play with the McGirt ruling,” Wageman said, referring to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that most of Oklahoma is still considered Native American reservation lands.
“What kind of rules do we want to allow for with medical marijuana? We need city rules on what we want in our community with marijuana, just like alcohol.”
One thing that’s still allowed for now are private grow houses, which are individuals with a medical marijuana card being able to grow a limited amount of the plant at their PV home.
During the meeting councilman Eric Smith was wondering how any of the marijuana related operations or even dispensaries are allowed with the McGirt ruling.
“How are any of these legal,” Smith said.
Pauls Valley’s police chief, Mitch McGill, says technically they are all illegal when it comes to one level of law.
“Every state that’s passed any kind of marijuana law is violating federal law,” McGill said.
“Now is a whole different realm with McGirt and we’re talking about Indian law. It’s a completely different world with McGirt.”
City attorney Jay Carlton said most marijuana issues are misdemeanors so the federal government “defers to the states.”
As for other types of activities, McGill said the McGirt ruling doesn’t apply to such municipal violations as speeding and minor misdemeanors.
“Anything above that, we can’t prosecute them in state court. We ask you if you’re a tribal member. If you’re not a tribal member we can do our job. If you are a tribal member then we contact Lighthorse,” he said, referring to the Chickasaw National police force.