Independence's medical marijuana zoning regulations, which had been more stringent than the state recommendations and which drew the ire of some medical marijuana advocates, now essentially match those of the state.
With one ordinance Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to 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. The remaining 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.
In another unanimous vote, the council established medical marijuana business regulations, including provisions for security, hours of operation and management. Those items would have been covered in a special-use permit – meaning council approval case by case – but two weeks ago, a council majority voted to remove that requirement.
Council Member Curt Dougherty said the idea behind one of the prior restrictions – 500 feet from any residential district or dwelling – had been to discourage medical marijuana facilities in small, older commercial strip centers that abutted neighborhoods.
The wording, however, eliminated all but a few spots in the city – a common complaint from medical marijuana advocates who said it potentially reduced access for patients and violated the Missouri Constitution. Voters approved medical marijuana by amending the Constitution more than a year ago. Dougherty said council members couldn't come to a consensus on how to remove just that portion.
“We wanted to make sure we put it in the commercial areas that are best suited for it,” he said.
As it turned out, the four state licenses for dispensary businesses in Independence did not reach that earlier concern. Those went to locations at:
• 16730 E. U.S. 24, next to Hawthorne Place Apartments.
• 15823 E. U.S. 24, next to QuikTrip near Missouri 291.
• 19341 E. U.S. 40, Crackerneck Plaza Shopping Center at Little Blue Parkway.
• 13621 E. U.S. 40, the former Steak ’n Shake.
Dougherty had not voted for removing the special-use permit, and while he supported Monday's ordinance, he said the city should keep an eye on possibly tweaking regulations again in the near future, lest the state grant more licenses and or even eventually approve recreational marijuana.
“I predict within a year there will be another round of licenses,” he said.