As the city of Springfield prepares for the state implementation of medical marijuana, council members last night held a first reading and public hearing on proposed regulations.
Springfield City Council voted on two amendments to a proposed medical marijuana zoning ordinance for medical marijuana cultivation, testing, manufacturing, post-extraction and dispensary facilities. One amendment passed and the other failed after the body heard input from the public.
Councilman Craig Hosmer made a motion for an amendment regarding the proposal’s 200-foot separation from churches for dispensaries and post-extraction facilities, which are bakeries, confectionaries or producers of ointments and other products. He instead requested a 1,000-foot separation — in line with majority of the rules in the proposal — between the facilities and elementary and secondary schools, child day care centers and churches.
Hosmer said having medical marijuana facilities within a block of public schools and day cares is “bad public policy”.
“If we place them within 200 feet of a school and we have problems, we’re not going to be able to back that up because then they have a right to that location and right to that facility,” he said when presenting his amendment. “We can always move closer.”
Hosmer’s amendment resulted in a 4-4 tie that ultimately failed. Council members Phyllis Ferguson, Mayor Ken McClure, Richard Ollis and Hosmer voted in favor of the amendment. Councilwoman Jan Fisk was not present at last night’s meeting.
The second amendment, motioned by Councilman Tom Prater, was a recommendation from the Planning & Zoning Commission to remove limitations on hours of operation, which passed 7-1 with Hosmer casting the lone opposing vote.
Council members met March 5 to first learn about the regulations proposed by Mary Lilly Smith, the city’s director of planning and development.
Last night, more than a dozen speakers addressed council, with none opposed to the proposed medical marijuana ordinance.
“When we try to compare this industry to an alike industry, it seems like everyone agrees it should be zoned like a pharmacy as that is basically what it is,” said Justin Petrillo, co-founder of The Wholesome Bud Co. LLC in Springfield. “Pharmacies have zero restrictions from distances to anything, but still, I think a good compromise seems to be to restrict it like a liquor store, which is 200 feet.”
The Wholesome Bud Co. is planning to cultivate, manufacture and dispense medical marijuana, according to the company’s website.
Stephanie Stenger Montgomery, a real estate developer with Springfield Land LP, questioned why operation hours would be limited for a dispensary when they aren’t for pharmacies, prior to the vote on the second amendment.
“People work their different shifts, people have different life hours that they’re working and people need to fill their medications,” she said. “This is clearly a market-driven retail space just like every other pharmacy.
“I don’t see how medical marijuana is any different than filling an opioid prescription.”
Dr. Jim Blaine of DMP Family Clinic and Dr. Chris Stout of Mercy told council about the medical benefits of marijuana for their patients and the difficulty working with a drug that is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Stout said he would switch patients to medical marijuana from opioids, noting through his research, he estimates around 60,000 patients would need medical marijuana in Missouri.
David Brodsky, a current resident of Colorado, addressed council on the distance requirement in the Centennial State. He has worked in the marijuana industry for eight years and is a former planning and zoning commissioner in Columbia.
“Schools are the primary concern with day cares being a close second,” he said of Colorado’s zoning regulations. “One-thousand feet is typical for both schools and day cares, especially when using a walking distance measurement instead of a radius.”
Brodsky told council he works with and represents two Springfield natives who are attempting to attain a medical marijuana infused product manufacturing license to place a business in the area. Brodsky said he fully supported Hosmer’s amendment before it was put to vote.
Council is scheduled to vote on the amended medical marijuana ordinance on April 22.
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