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Beck, Castle rebut mayor's veto rationale

Cary Ashby • Updated Apr 7, 2017 at 7:57 PM

Norwalk Councilmen Kelly Beck and Chris Castle are addressing comments made by Mayor Rob Duncan about his plan to veto welcoming a medical-marijuana cultivation facility in the city.

Beck and Castle co-sponsored legislation that would have welcomed state-regulated, medical-marijuana cultivation facilities in Norwalk. During Tuesday’s meeting, council voted 4-3 to amend portions of chapter 513 of the city codified ordinances.

Citing “all the unknowns” and his feedback from law enforcement personnel, mental health representatives and healthcare officials who wouldn’t support the legislation, Duncan has said he decided to veto the majority vote by council. The mayor has 10 days in which to file his veto. Council must act on it, or essentially take another vote, at its next session.

“In my heart of hearts, I can’t sign legislation right now with all the unknowns — and that is my moral dilemma, not medical marijuana itself,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “First of all, I didn’t think that it would pass. Secondly, I thought that if it did pass, they (council members) were aware that (a veto) was my position.”

Castle said he was surprised by the mayor’s decision and “expected the administration would maintain their neutral position, allowing the legislation to sit unsigned for 10 days, becoming law while maintaining their neutral position.”

Duncan said he hadn’t met with anyone from Standard Wellness until Tuesday.

“Three council members and several members of Norwalk's business community sat down with representatives from Standard Wellness on March 15. The mayor and four city department heads were invited to that meeting, though all were ‘unable to attend,’” Beck said Friday.

Castle added: “On March 21, two additional council members met with company representatives. Five department heads and a representative from a sixth department took part in that second meeting, though Mr. Duncan did not.”

The mayor told the Reflector he “did not receive a packet of information until one hour before council” met Tuesday.

“Mayor Duncan made himself available to meet with representatives from Standard Wellness, LLC for the first time on Tuesday, April 4 at 8 a.m. — the day of the final vote,” Beck said.

Castle also shared his perspective.

“During that meeting, the company presented security details and financial projections to Mr. Duncan. They also addressed several questions which council had asked in previous sessions. An even more detailed ‘packet of information’ was made available to Mr. Duncan as early as noon, though he himself requested that it be hand-delivered to him at 6 p.m.,” he said.

Duncan has said his decision to announce a veto was done at the spur of the moment, having weighed what he heard from the public, local officials and via council sessions.

“Mr. Duncan read his ‘intent to veto’ from a prepared statement during Tuesday night's council meeting. The intention to veto was discussed within city hall no later than Friday, March 31,” Beck said.

“He made the veto decision because there’s not enough information about the state regulations. Ohio House Bill 523 and its 41-page summary (were) made available to the administration's legal counsel on March 6. The latest medical-marijuana control program ruling (was) filed by the Ohio Department of Commerce on March 22, 2017, and made available to all members of council, Mayor Duncan and several city department heads on March 23,” he added.

The Ohio Department of Commerce, State Medical Board of Ohio and the state pharmacy board all are overseeing and regulating the medical-marijuana process.

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