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Old Arguments Resurface as Missouri Prepares for Medical Dispensaries

Brought to you by Green Consulting Partners

As with most state and city cannabis licensing processes, Missouri is seeing a variety of opinions address the argument of "where" and "how far apart."

Voters approved an amendment last year that allowed medical cannabis businesses to start the process of legalization and set the sensitive use buffer (away from schools, churches and day care centers) at a minimum of 1,000 feet. 

And, while individual cities have the ability to reduce the 1,000 ft. buffer and determine hours of operation, the question of leniency remains. 

With the application process opening up in August, 2019, business owners are actively preparing and need to know where they'll be planting their roots.

As we've seen in cities across Southern California, there is opposition from communities and local regulatory bodies that would prefer to ban cannabis businesses altogether. These decisions can radically change the fate of cannabis businesses making it imperative that owners partner with expert compliance experts and licensing teams.

Kim Morgan, a small business owner in downtown Rolla, MO, expressed her concerns about cannabis businesses negatively impacting property values and creating issues within the area. “Downtown is a family-friendly area that does not need this kind of business in it,” she shared at a public hearing earlier this month, making it clear that she is worried about more than property values.

Fortunately, local governments within the state cannot enact ordinances or regulations in order to keep businesses out. This fact is enabling cannabis advocacy groups and city administrators to remain optimistic that buffer distances and local regulations will remain reasonable, enabling 420 business owners to open their doors in communities that stand as viable markets. 

In a reply to concerns and comments about property values and community damage, Rolla City Administrator John Butz shared “That’s really saying that, in essence, you can’t zone out these kinds of things... The market’s going to have to have reasonable expectations where this type of dispensary would be able to operate in your community.”

He went on to explain that “A medical marijuana facility is a significant investment in that building. Not just in the building, but in the mechanisms to manage it, to run it, to operate it,” Butz said. “I personally have a hard time seeing how that would have an adverse impact on it (property values).”

If a city chooses not to set their own ordinance, they will adopt the state-set 1,000 foot buffer. Rolla’s Planning and Zoning Commission has sent their proposal to the city council with a reduced buffer of 500 feet. It also stipulates dispensaries can be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Sunday.

And, even with the buffer distant cut in half, medical marijuana proponents argue that any limit is too much.

“We voted it in as a medicine. That means we should definitely treat that industry as fairly as we treat any other industry in Rolla,” said City Councilman Daniel Jones. “I don’t think we should put unnecessary restrictions on something like that. Pharmacies certainly don’t carry a buffer like that.”

Are all across the spectrum in terms of buffer distances. 

St. Joseph, Creve Coeur and Ellisville have reduced the buffer zone to 300 feet. O’Fallon set it at 750 feet. Warrensburg is going with the maximum 1,000 feet. The proposal under consideration in St. Louis would have no limit.

If you're unsure of who to work with and need business, compliance, or licensing advice, reach out to the team at Green Consulting Partners, today. They will not only save you countless hours of scouring through ordinances and city planning regulations, they are determined to help your business thrive. 

Matthew Thompson

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