The Ripley Building Commission has three new members. The commission has the authority to buy and sell property, and has more options to finance these transactions. The Building Commission financed the current municipal building and leased it to the city.

At a special meeting of the Ripley City Council on Feb. 11, Mayor Carolyn Rader swore in Linda Dickirson, David Moore, and Ron Waybright to one-year, three-year, and five-year terms respectively.

“These three served on the Building Commission to get this municipal building established,” Mayor Carolyn Rader said. “It’s very appropriate that they get back involved with the city’s future plans.”

The longest discussion of the evening involved medical cannabis dispensaries, growers, and processers. The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, Senate Bill 386 was enacted in 2019 and can be found in West Virginia Code 16A.

Amy Haskins of the Jackson County Health Department discussed with council members John McGinley, Carolyn Waybright, Danny Martin, Bryan Thompson, and City Recorder David Casto, along with Mayor Rader, various issues and questions surrounding the establishment of these businesses. Councilman Rick Buckley was not present.

One of the major topics involved, which governing body has the authority to grant or deny permission to the establishment of a dispensary? It was the general understanding of those at the meeting that if the County Commission denies medical cannabis, then a referendum must be placed on a ballot for Jackson County registered voters to decide.

Medical cannabis was on the agenda for the Jackson County Commission at it’s Feb. 12 meeting. The city of Ravenswood approved a lease for a medical cannabis dispensary at it’s Feb. 4 meeting.

Applications for dispensaries, growers, and processors are submitted to the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health. The deadline is Feb. 18. The applicant’s basic information is then sent to the local boards of health for approval or denial of permits. Haskins said, at this time, no guidelines for consideration have been given.

State dispensary application fees are $2,500 and $5,000 per grower or processor application. Registration fees are $10,000 for each location and $50,000 for growers and processors. A state tax of 10 percent will be levied on sales from dispensaries to patients and caregivers. No city or county sales tax may be levied nor can a municipality add any additional tax.

The Bureau of Public Health will issue no more than 100 dispensary permits statewide, up to 10 grower permits, and up to 10 processor permits.

Council adjourned for a closed-door executive session for the purpose of land purchase. At the end of the 31-minute session, council approved the Building Commission to explore the purchase of 72 acres adjacent to the current Walmart location.

The next regular meeting of the Ripley City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 18 at the municipal building.