My View – February 2016

When expressing My View, it’s always penned with a deliberate “end in-mind,” intent that what’s expressed will make a difference and possibly shape public policy. On that note, I’d like to share my thoughts on a matter of utmost importance that will impact Jacksonville’s future—marijuana.

On January 5 at its first meeting of the New Year, I was very pleased when the City Council passed an Ordinance banning the establishment of medical and recreational marijuana businesses in town. (See Ordinance here.) Although Council never mentioned the possibility that allowing such shops could jeopardize our Historic Landmark status with the Federal Government, council made what I believe is a very practical decision, nonetheless. The action effectively says there will be no pot shops in Jacksonville, at least not until the issue goes to a public vote in November. Having personally voted against Measure 91, the statewide measure that legalized the use of recreational marijuana, I reluctantly find myself in the statewide minority on this issue. It gives me hope, however, that a slim majority of Jacksonville’s voters also opposed Measure 91. I’m optimistic that many more voters who supported legalization on a statewide basis are in fact NIMBY (not in my backyard) voters and will vote to keep pot shops out of their beloved city.

As said, while I’m relieved that Council voted for the ban, I wasn’t relieved when it also decided to send the issue to the voters in the November 8 General Election. In my “perfect world,” the Council would not have referred the issue to the voters and taken the risk of being a target of a lawsuit.

I know many of you agree with me on this issue and that others are shaking your heads and mumbling, “Parker is out of touch…he’s a prohibitionist.” One fact of life of sitting here in the publisher’s chair means taking positive and negative pot shots. Sitting here also includes making decisions on what to publicly support on these pages and, of course, what not to support. A publisher who claims the pages of his publication doesn’t include personal bias, is lying.

This fall, it will be up to the Jacksonville voters and not the City Council to have the final word on banning marijuana businesses in town—a critical decision on the course our community takes and a clear message it wishes to send to the world about our values. Please join me in supporting our City Council and its well-thought-out decision to ban marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. Working jointly, we can shape our future and make a difference in our Small Town with Big Atmosphere.