The Independence City Council will soon have another chance to alter its medical marijuana facility zoning regulations, which are more stringent than the state recommendations and drew the ire of some medical marijuana advocates.
City Manager Zach Walker told the council Monday that an ordinance planned for next week will essentially mirror one that a council majority turned down in October. That ordinance would roll back restrictions for a marijuana facility within 2,500 feet of another facility, within 500 feet of any residential district or dwelling or within 1,200 feet of the Truman Library, though it would have kept the requirement of a special-use permit that must go through the council. The current restrictions in Independence say a medical marijuana facility must be at least 1,000 feet from churches, schools and day-care centers – matching the state recommendation.
“It will look eerily familiar to what you've seen before,” Walker said.
Some council members sat the city could roll some of the special-use permit items, such as security and hours of operation, into the business license application, similar to what Columbia did. That would be a separate item for vote.
“That may be a way to still achieve our goals and still be in line with the state,” Mayor Eileen Weir said.
“This is an ongoing discussion on this council,” she said. “There are some real concerns that have been expressed by citizens and some council members about the fact that this is a cash-only business, and some security risks that might come with that.
“The nature of our city is that some commercial zoning is very closely embedded to neighborhoods.”
Some critics have said that creates an undue burden and zones out all but a small number of spots in the city, potentially reducing access for patients, and they say it violates the Missouri Constitution. Voters approved medical marijuana by amending the Constitution more than a year ago.
The city has already faced one short-lived case regarding medical marijuana regulations and could face more soon, and Walker confirmed the city's insurance does not cover litigation costs regarding medical marijuana regulation. Such costs would have to be paid out of the general fund.
Council Member Karen DeLuccie, who has urged the council before prior votes to roll back restrictions rather than deal with potential litigation, said she wants to see the rollback ordinance again, as well as the business license requirements.
“I think that clears everything up,” she said. “That's what I would absolutely support.”
None of the state-approved licenses for a transportation, cultivation or manufacturing or testing facility are in Independence. The state has yet to announce the 192 dispensary licenses it plans to grant. One cultivation facility with an Independence address, OXG, LLC at 3823 N. Cobbler Road, is in the village of River Bend, in the tiny portion of Jackson County that is on the north side of the Missouri River.
In all, the state approved 21 transportation, 60 cultivation, 10 testing and 86 manufacturing facility licenses.