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Norwalk mayor vows to veto marijuana cultivation legislation

By JOE CENTERS • Updated Apr 4, 2017 at 11:41 PM

In what was a contentious meeting at times, Norwalk council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to amend portions of chapter 513 of the Norwalk codified ordinances to provide for the state regulated cultivation of medical marijuana within the city.

But as soon as the vote passed, Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan said he would veto it.

Voting in favor of the ordinance were Chris Castle and Kelly Beck, who sponsored the legislation, along with Samantha Wilhelm and Deb Lucal.

Voting against were Chris Mushett, Dave Wallace and Steve Schumm.

“The bottom line is we’ve had a little over three weeks to come to a conclusion on something that extensive research needs to be done on,” Duncan said. “I’ve heard from more people on this than any issue we have done in my 5 1/2 years here. I don’t think it’s good for us to make decisions on rules that aren’t yet in place. 

“It was too quick. There are too many unknowns.”

Castle was upbeat after the meeting and said it is not over yet.

“We just had a majority vote on Norwalk city council on something that is brand new and will change people’s lives. ... I’m not worried on how that went down just now.

“This isn’t a religious issue. ... I do believe in forward thinking. These aren’t exclusive things. You don’t have to take one and replace with another.

“We just got a majority vote in Norwalk city council on an ordinance and a resolution. There’s no reason to have mixed emotions. 

“The mayor has the right to veto legislation. The charter says if we make a motion to reconsider we’ve got until the next council meeting to make a motion to reconsider. We will. A motion to reconsider requires five votes instead of four.”

If he doesn’t get the five votes, is it done?

“Yes,” Castle said.

Representatives of Standard Wellness Company, LLC, made a presentation at the meeting about their proposed business.

After the vote, company CEO Erik Vaughan said he was “happy with the vote but disappointed with the veto. I was very impressed with the people of Norwalk.”

The meeting lasted almost 2 1/2 hours, with most of that time spent on public participation.

Many of the comments drew cheers as well as sneers, while one woman called out Schumm for his actions. She said she didn’t like the way Schumm reacted to certain comments and she didn’t like the way he sat back in his chair. Schumm finally snapped back and told the woman to sit down, which drew quite a reaction from the crowd of about 70.

Huron County commissioners Terry Boose and Joe Hintz both spoke out against the legislation, while Huron County Sheriff Todd Corbin and Norwalk Police Chief Dave Light both talked about the growing drug problem in the community.

“I’ve been in this 20 years and the problem has not gotten any better,” Corbin said. “You just need more time. I’m not going to say if I’m for it or against it. You just need more time to consider your vote.”

Light said there were 16 overdose deaths last year in Huron County and questioned “what message would we be sending to our kids” if medical marijuana cultivation was approved here.

Numerous people on both sides of the issue talked, but in the end, the month-long discussion may come down to Duncan’s veto.

Council is scheduled for a work session at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers.

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