Ridgeland aldermen pass resolution against Initiative 65

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RIDGELAND — Two aldermen voted no on a resolution passed by city leaders here offering the “city’s” opinion on the controversial medical marijuana initiative on the ballot this election. 

Mayor Gene F. McGee said that he thought there was “confusion on the ballot” concerning Initiative 65 and that it was important for the city to say which option would be in the city’s best interest. He said he believes that if Initiative 65 passes it could take away the city’s ability to make zoning decisions on medical marijuana facilities. 

“I am nervous what this could do to the city,” McGee said.

Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith said that he found the resolution to be “condescending and patronizing” to voters. Smith thought it was appropriate for city leaders as individuals to make comments or run political ads about any number of issues but issuing a resolution from the city sounded like they were telling people how to vote.

“We are not mandating their vote we are just expressing our opinion,” McGee would say later before aldermen voted.

The resolution asserts, in addition to the stated zoning concerns, that passage of initiative 65 will “deprive the city of tax revenue generated from the sale of medical marijuana”, increase the demands on the Ridgeland Police Department and would have no oversight from the Legislature and would be difficult to change as a constitutional amendment. 

Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier made the motion to approve the resolution with Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Holder seconding.

Ward 1 Alderman Ken Heard said that he was initially going to vote in favor of the resolution but said that he was persuaded by Smith and cast the only other “nay” vote. 

The resolution passed 5-2 with Heard and Smith voting “nay.” All aldermen were present with the exception of Ward 5 Alderman Bill Lee who participated via speakerphone.


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