An Independence City Council majority approved the city's regulations for medical marijuana businesses, including some additional guidelines beyond what Missouri health officials drew up.
The big basics include that no medical marijuana businesses shall be within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center or church, hours of operation would be prohibited from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. and no outdoor storage would be permitted.
The regulations included an amendment proposed by Council Member Curt Dougherty, who asked that all medical marijuana businesses, whether they be dispensary, cultivation facility or manufacturing facility, have a special-use permit approved by the council.
Also, a marijuana facility could not be in a historic district, within 2,500 feet of another facility, within 500 feet from any residential district or dwelling or within 1,200 feet of the Truman Library.
With 24 marijuana dispensaries allowed per congressional district, and one per 30,000 population, Independence could stand to have four dispensaries at most. The state said cities are allowed to enact ordinances pertaining to the “time, place and manner of operation” but can't place any “unduly burdens” on marijuana businesses.
Dougherty said a special-use permit would give the city some measure of control already if down the road the state legalizes recreational marijuana, pulls back its overall cap of 24 per congressional district, “all bets are going to be off on this” and “we'll have these more than Starbucks.”
“We don't cap it, but we say that's not really the best place to put it,” he said. “I don't think it's overly burdensome. You can have this, but it's not the location we want.
“So you wouldn't have somebody making marijuana Gummy Bears next to your house – this happens.”
Council Member Karen DeLuccie said she favored the special-use permit route because, unlike a conditional-use permit, the public would have to be informed about such a business potentially coming to the neighborhood.
City Counselor Shannon Marcano and Community Liaison John Mayfield cautioned that cities had been advised about possibly enacting regulations the state might strike down later.
“To err on the side of not being unduly burdensome, that's the clear direction we have,” Marcano said.
“I guess I don't consider a special-use permit to be an extra burden,” DeLuccie said.
Dougherty explained that the city puts a cap on several types of businesses, including a couple as a crime-fighting mechanism. Among them:
Payday loan and pawn shop businesses which has been good for citizens and nipped at one area of crime. Tattoo shops “anxious to tattoo a teenager who can only live in the moment,” discount smoke shops “owned mostly by Middle Easterners who will sell anything out the back door,” trash trucks on the streets and fireworks stands.
“We have different restrictions on business licenses,” he said.
Dougherty's comments, particularly about discount smoke shops elicited some murmurs and gasps from the citizens who attended the meeting, but no specific follow-up from council members.
Council Member John Perkins said he normally would tend to be more cautious, but “I think this is important, and I think we should do some trailblazing work here,” he said.
Council Member Scott Roberson added that if the city needs to it can adjust the permit.
Mayor Eileen Weir and Council Member Tom Van Camp voted in dissention on Dougherty's amendment and then the amended ordinance, as they preferred to delay a vote at least long enough to discuss with the state about additional regulations.