PRINCETON — A request by the City of Bluefield to the Mercer County Commission for a letter of support related to the city’s quest to open the way for medical cannabis dispensaries in the county was met with skepticism at the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday.

Bluefield Mayor Ron Martin told the board someone has approached the city wanting to place a dispensary inside city limits.

Martin said medical cannabis has been approved by the state legislature and not only provides a public health benefit but also an economic boost.

But each county can either allow the dispensaries or not, and that decision is made by the board of health, which in March decided not to allow them in Mercer County.

The Commission does not make the decision, but can reject the board of health’s decision.

As with any prescription drug, a physician prescribes it to treat various illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, seizure disorders and glaucoma.

But Commissioner Greg Puckett said he understands some of the benefits but “marijuana is not medicine” and he is concerned it may be overprescribed like opioids have been.

Puckett, who is the director of Community Connections, has long opposed drug abuse and has served on local, state and national drug task forces.

He did say the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has approved a capsule that is a regulated concentrate of TCH (the active element in marijuana) that can be sold in regular pharmacies.

Fellow Commissioner Gene Buckner said he is concerned about it as well and did some research that shows only 12 of the state’s 55 counties have so far agreed to allow the dispensaries and ““two of those are not happy with what they have done.”

Commissioner Bill Archer, however, said he saw a presentation from a group who want to locate a dispensary at I-77 Exit 1.

“They made in impressive presentation,” he said.

Martin and other city officials recently attended a board of health meeting and requested that the board reverse its March decision to clear the way for the businesses to locate in the county.

Jim Spencer, director of community and economic development for Bluefield, told board members the health benefits are substantial and he would support the dispensaries for that reason alone.

But they also create jobs (up to 15 for each dispensary) and bring in tax revenue as well, he added.

Spencer and Martin both have made it clear they do not support legalization for recreational use, but the health benefits are too substantial to ignore.

The board of health said the city’s request will be taken under consideration.

Commissioners did not schedule a date for the requested letter of support to again be discussed.

— Contact Charles Boothe at

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