JONES, Okla. -- Jones Mayor Ray Poland said he plans to present a proposed amendment over the city's ordinances on medical marijuana which currently requires registration and fees for cardholders.
The ordinance, passed in January, states personal license holders and those with caregiver licenses issued by the State of Oklahoma are required to register with the town and pay a fee.
"The fee shall be used to offset municipal expenses covering costs related to licensing, inspection, administration and enforcement of Personal Licenses." the ordinance states. "All operators of Medical Marijuana Establishments are required to obtain a Medical Marijuana Establishment permit and a business license from the Town Clerk."
As written, the fee for caregivers is $20 annually and $1,250 annually for a retail marijuana establishment.
News 4 spoke with Mayor Poland about the intent of the ordinance Thursday and why a city registration and fees were required for cardholders if they already have state issued licenses. According to Mayor Poland, the idea was to provide "another level of protection".
"If somebody were to call and say they’re growing marijuana in their houses and they don’t have a card, then it’s easier to look on a database and say yes — they do have a card. They’re not violating the law. They’re fine," he said. "Our intent was to try to protect the citizen as much as we could possibly could."
However, an hour after the interview, we were told the city never intended to subject patients to the registration and fee -- only caregivers and businesses.
"I believe we passed it with the intent that this would be removed and it just was an oversight that it didn’t get done," Poland explained. "We are all human, we can and do make mistakes sometimes. But when we do, we do everything we can to fix that."
The ordinance, as written, has been criticized as discriminatory.
"We don’t make patients register their narcotics, their diabetes medicine or any other controlled medicine — so there’s no reason that the individual should be required to register with the city, that they are a medical marijuana patient," attorney Rachel Bussett said. "The fact of the matter is, is medical marijuana is legal in the state of Oklahoma and it’s a new process but it’s not any different than any other controlled medication and everybody really just needs to learn and figure out how to wrap their head around it."
Bussett has handled a number cases challenging the legality of certain ordinances and regulations regarding medical marijuana. Even without patients being subjected to registration and fees, she said requiring caregivers to do so could be an invasion of privacy.
"All documents that are registered with the city and part of their official documentation does become part of an open record so in theory, any citizen can go into the city of Jones and request an open record of all of their patients and caregivers — and that’s a huge privacy violation," she told News 4. "The city of Jones is not a HIPAA protected entity because they don’t meet the definitions under HIPAA, but they do have obligations to protect privacy and they also cannot infringe on an individual’s constitutional rights to privacy under the 14th amendment, as well as the Oklahoma Constitution. These kind of registries for very specifically targeted medications violate those rules.."
Poland said they have had attorneys review their ordinance, as written.
"We’re not asking the caregiver to tell us where they’re going. We’re just asking them to register. We have people knocking on doors, trying to sell stuff — they’re required to register within Jones," he said. "A caregiver is a business. They’re running a business. It’s a business license. It’s the same as anybody else."
Jones said he plans to present the proposed amendment to exclude patients from the ordinance language at a future council meeting. There is a public meeting for interested residents on February 25 at 6 p.m.
To read the full city ordinance, click here.