The Courier in Russellville reports that 420Rx, which has a state permit to open a marijuana dispensary in Russellville, has sued Mayor Richard Harris and the City Council for refusing it a special use permit.
The business has a state permit, city planning staff approval and a unanimous vote of the Planning Commission for a permit to operate in a commercial zone at 3506 S. Arkansas Avenue (Highway 7).
During a public hearing, the Courier reported that several aldermen said they wouldn’t approve a marijuana dispensary under any circumstances. May 16, the Council split 4-4 on the permit. The mayor declined to cast a deciding vote. He said he was conflicted.
The lawsuit contends the only legitimate issue is proper use of the property. It says the refusal was arbitrary and reflected disparate treatment, common grounds for challenging zoning decisions in court. From The Courier:
Statements by aldermen during the hearing included a refusal to “accept the responsibility of having [marijuana] in our community,” a statement that medical marijuana “is not good for our community as a whole” and “I choose not to live with that.” No Russellville resident spoke out against the plaintiffs’ application for a special use permit, court documents stated.
Might this reflect on the odds of casino forces persuading local officials to support a permit? You have to wonder. The marijuana measure was approved in Pope County. Casinos were not.