Council considers medical cannabis ordinance

The Scottsboro City Council held a regular meeting followed by a work session on Monday, November 14, 2022. During the meeting, the ordinance to rezone 1290 Porter Road from R1 to C4 was carried. A one-time pay raise for Scottsboro City employees was also approved. The one-time pay raise has become a tradition in response to the state’s legislation that states Christmas bonuses are not allowed to be instituted during the holidays. The move is a way around and ensures city employees still get their annual one-time pay raise, coincidentally, right around the holidays.

The election for Scottsboro to decide whether or not to renew and continue the $2.5million ad valorem school tax in the city was also carried. Scottsboro City Schools Superintendent Amy Childress presented this request at a previous meeting stating the City would be responsible for the costs of the election, and the Scottsboro City School Board would reimburse the city of the costs incurred. As of now, this election will take place on Tuesday, February 28, 2023.

The equipment financing bid was awarded to First Jackson Bank, whose bid came in at 3.03%. The remaining 10% of the FY2022-2023 city budget was also approved. The remaining 10% of the budget came in at $2,520,787 with the total budget finalized at $24,972,198.

IMPACT Learning Center’s request that the city renew the lease on the building IMPACT is housed within was also carried. IMPACT now holds a five-year lease for the building with the City with an option to renew for another five. The traffic signal invoice at Highway 72/Scottsboro Commons was approved. The invoice came in at $75,131.40 and will come out of the Capital Improvements fund.

Finally, Kandice Paradise was approved to be appointed to the Library Board, and Susan Fisher and Clint King were appointed to the Museum Commission.

At the following work session, council members heard from John Dietz and Tony Wallingsford in regards to an ordinance for medical cannabis dispensaries in the city of Scottsboro. Dietz, the owner and operator of Mountaintop Dispensary in Scottsboro presented his case for the second time to Council, stating the dispensary will provide high wage jobs in the community along with providing business for local industry.

“Tonight we’re asking you to move forward in favor of allowing medical cannabis dispensaries in the City of Scottsboro and creating an ordinance therein,” Dietz stated. “This will allow patients determined by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Coalition (AMCC) program to gain access to the newly designed state program without disabled or shut-in patients having to commute to other areas of the state to get prescriptions. This will also allow a new business inside the city. In the future, it would allow more jobs to develop right here in our city with good paying wages and prominent tax revenue, plus a trickle-down effect of keeping money earned and spent right here in Scottsboro. This will benefit packaging, labeling, plastics and other supporting companies for this industry as potential suppliers and services rendered.”

In addition, Dietz reprised council members concerning issues about youth-targeting in Scottsboro and why it can lead to an alarming problem if not addressed sooner rather than later. Dietz presented several products all not only infringing upon intellectual property but that also contained wording and imagery subject to attract younger audiences.

“All of these samples were purchased on November 13th prior to this meeting, all within the city limits of Scottsboro,” Dietz stated. “The QR codes on these packages lead to a very vague web address with three web redirects and have also been found to be operating under a VPN with no home address. Upon further investigation, these infringed brands also do not have accurate or industry-chain of custody records. They do not provide accurate analysis. Most importantly, the information such as potency, toxicities – whether there’s been use of pesticides – or even the country of origin. In that alone, is very concerning.”

Dietz stated this issue is not a good look for Scottsboro, the state of Alabama or the industry in which he operates. He later cited a 2021 study conducted by the FDA and CDC that estimated more than two-million U.S. middle school and high school students reportedly had used or tried something similar to those advertised.

“Even though the state of Alabama strictly prohibits logos not authorized by the AMCC, in the medical program, there will still be gas stations, liquor stores, smoke shops and vape shops and the like selling these products with the targeting toward underage children. They pose a consumer risk, and I would not consider them to be safe or of value to anyone in our city limits looking for a legitimate health product. I would ask the city to step in and resolve that issue before it gets any bigger,” Dietz stated.

Following Dietz, Tony Wallingsford came forward to speak on behalf of the ordinance.
“One of the concerns I’ve had for some time has been the opiate pandemic in our county and area. We have done tremendous strides over the last several years to combat that, but as we have discussed in our local committee, medical professionals are saying and telling us there has been no documented case of overdose using medical cannabis for pain and anxiety relief. Which we cannot say about our opiate pandemic.”

Wallingsford continued, “The state of Alabama is in the process of formulating their regulations, and we welcome regulations. We want regulations because we want to make sure this process is done properly. It is a requirement that the local municipality have an ordinance. We would welcome to work with the City of Scottsboro to develop that with you.”

Wallingsford also stated he has seen the products Dietz was describing, and said he has left them where they were sitting because he did not want to be associated with any products geared toward marketing for underage persons. He then stated he wanted to do everything he could to ensure there was no abuse of this program.

Council President Pudge Bailey stated that himself, Mayor Jim McCamy, Councilmember Ralph Dawe and City Attorney Stephen Kennamer were currently holding meetings to address the instatement of an ordinance. This was moved to the next meeting.


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