PRINCETON — Mercer County’s commissioners heard a proposal Tuesday for a medical cannabis dispensary and passed a resolution making Mercer County a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Dr. Joseph Baisden, CEO of Appalachian Heritage Cannabis, LLC, spoke to the commission about his company’s plans to open a medical cannabis dispensary in Mercer County.
“Yes, we’re planning that and we’re wondering if they’re opposed or they’re in favor,” Baisden told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph before Tuesday’s meeting started.
The dispensary would distribute medical cannabis products allowed by the state including tinctures, topical and oil forms, he said. A possible site is being considered.
“We’ve located a building that’s in between Bluefield and Princeton at 2138 Country Girl Road,” Baisden stated. “It’s underneath the 460 overpass over there. We think that’s a good central location for patients to have access and we have talked to the (Bluefield Area) Transit Authority about investigating whether they could provide bus service to that location or not.”
Cannabis products would not be available until early next year at least, Baisden said.
“This whole process with the state is going to take at least until April to review the licenses and grant licenses, and then, of course, it would take months for the growers to go from having their licenses to being inspected and having their facilities ready because none of them are ready,” he said. “And it then would take months for them to go from growing the product to quality control and instructions to create the product. All of it has to be grown in the state. There’s not any interstate commerce allowed.”
Baisden told the county commission that there are plans for a growing facility in Oceana. It could start with about 25 jobs, and the hope is to grow to 100 jobs in five years, he added.
Each dispensary would be around five employees including a security guard. Baisden said
“Our company is of the mind to keep this in the southern part of the state,” he stated. “We have a dispensary we’re considering in Welch and one we’re considering in Mingo County, and one we’re considering in Greenbrier County.”
Baisden said Appalachian Heritage Cannabis LLC is a new company.
“We don’t have any affiliation with any outside companies, any of the big conglomerates that we expect will be coming into the state,” he said. “We don’t have idea who is applying or trying to do this. This is the first time these industry is being established and we hope to be in the first round.
County Commission President Gene Buckner said the commission would be writing a letter to the Mercer County Health Department stating that the commission was not taking a stand for or against the issue.
Commissioner Greg Puckett asked Baisden how many patients the dispensary could serve. Baisden replied that there are an estimated 50,000 patients in West Virginia, and that each dispensary could serve “several hundred” patients.
Puckett said he “was not a fan” of medical cannabis dispensaries, saying that when one opens in a community, marijuana becomes more socially acceptable to young people and causal use of it goes up.
“I do not want it in Mercer County,” Puckett stated. “I’m not for it.”
Buckner told Baisden that he was not in favor of the idea because it could cost the county money for the sheriff’s department “to take care of the things that go on around your establishment.”
“I don’t think it would be a good thing for our county,” Buckner said.
Sheriff Tommy Bailey asked Chief Deputy Joe Parks to share some research he has done about the impact the marijuana business can have on a community. Parks said that Colorado communities have seen problems such as employees coming to work “doped up” and more crime fueled by the products and the money.
In other business, the commission voted unanimously to pass a resolution making Mercer County a Second Amendment Sanctuary. About 50 residents came to support the measure, so the commissioners moved their meeting from the commission’s courtroom to the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge William Sadler.
Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler read the resolution.
“Whereas, the Mercer County Commission is concerned about the passage of any bill containing language which could be interpreted as infringing the rights of the citizens of Mercer County to keep and bear arms or could begin a slippery slope of restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Mercer County,” according to the resolution.
“Whereas, the Mercer County Commission wishes to express its intent to stand as a Sanctuary County for Second Amendment rights and to oppose, within the limits of the Constitutions of the United States and the State of West Virginia, any efforts to unconstitutionally restrict these rights, and to use such legal means at its disposal to protect the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms, including through legal action, the power of appropriation of public funds, and the right to petition for redress of grievances,” according to the resolution.
Sitler said later the resolution was proposed “because Mercer County citizens deserve recognition by the county government that we have a right to keep and bear arms, we have a right to self defense enshrined in the West Virginia Constitution Article 3 Section 22 as well as the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights. It’s a preemptive measure.”
“The county commission made a commitment that if a law arises which they deemed to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms, our right to defend ourselves under Article 3 Section 22, that would authorize them to approve litigation or spend money. The resolution by itself does not cause the county to spend any money, but it sets up a possibility for the county to commit itself to litigation to defend the right to keep and bear arms” Sitler said.
Citizens attending the meeting spoke in support of the measure.
“I applaud the commission for passing this resolution,” attorney Brian Cochran, who is running for Prosecuting Attorney, said. I”m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. It think it’s something we should have done years ago. Better late than never.”
Other people questioned the need for a resolution. Deb McCarthy of Princeton said amending the U.S. Constitution would take a national convention, and that “nobody is coming for your guns.” What supporters of gun laws were asking for were precautions such as background checks and stopping the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org