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P&Z sends medical marijuana zoning recommendations to Board of Aldermen

The City of Jackson Planning and Zoning Commission passed an amendment to the zoning code that specifies where medical marijuana facilities can be located within the city limits and establishes the minimum setback distances these facilities can be from schools, churches and daycare centers.

Licensed medical marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities will be allowed in industrial districts, as long as they are not located within 100 feet of a previously existing state-licensed daycare, church or school. The measurement is the shortest distance from building to building, not property lines.

Medical marijuana cultivation facilities can also be established in A-1 agricultural districts.

Licensed medical marijuana dispensary facilities, which can sell marijuana to patients or primary caregivers, can be established in commercial districts like drugstores or medical prescription centers. They will also have the 100 feet setback from schools, churches and daycares.

The approved amendment will now go to the board of aldermen, who are expected to set a public hearing on the subject for their July 15 meeting. The board of aldermen will have the change to change any of the commission’s recommendations.

The planning and zoning commission held a public hearing during their June 12 meeting. No public comments were made at the meeting, and one letter was set requesting a 1,000-foot setback distance that matches state regulations.

The commission debated what the setback distance should be set at, with commission member Janice Unger agreeing with the letter that the setback should be set at 1,000 feet.

Other members of the commission agreed that the regulations should be similar to regulations for alcohol. Member Tony Koeller brought up that on High Street, a restaurant that sells alcohol is across the street from a church.

Member Harry Dryer brought up that they should treat medical marijuana like drugstores, especially in light of the current opioid crisis in the United States.

“The problem we have in this country right now with prescription medications is far worse and has caused more harm and deaths than marijuana ever has,” Dryer said.

Member Tony Koeller added that the smell might be a concern, having made a recent visit to Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal.

The commission voted 6-1 in favor of the 100-foot setback, with Unger being the one vote against.

The commission also brought up setting maximum hours of operation for these facilities. After a discussion where several members brought up that drug stores do not have any hour requirements, the commission declined to vote on any hour-of-operation regulations.

The changes only apply to medical marijuana facilities and would not apply to recreational marijuana facilities if the state or federal government legalized them. In the event that recreational facilities became legal, the city would make new zoning regulations that could be different from medical marijuana facilities.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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