P&Z Commission, aldermen begin consideration for regulating medicinal marijuana sales, manufacturing in Owensville

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

With sales of medicinal marijuana being allowed in Missouri starting in 2020, elected officials in communities like Owensville are determining how sales and manufacturing of cannabis products can be regulated within city limits.

Travis Hernandez, the city’s contract engineer through Archer-Elgin, told Planning and Zoning Commission members and several Board of Aldermen members that the state is “quickly proceeding with its regulations” ahead of the voter-approved sales of medical marijuana and related products which will begin in January 2020.

“The city is going to have to make a decision on where they would allow those facilities,” Hernandez told the planners and elected officials at the June 24 P&Z meeting.

He noted city officials could create their own restrictions on issues like distances from schools, churches and day care facilities or follow regulations already established for business such as package liquor stores and taverns.

These established restrictions typically follow state statutes such as 1,000 feet from a school.

“We’re fastly approaching the deadline to begin,” Hernandez said. “I know we’ve had a few inquiries.”

He noted the state would begin issuing dispensary licenses as of Dec. 31 —180 days after state law authorized by voter approval goes into effect.

Peggy Farrell, the city’s deputy clerk who keeps minutes for the planning commission, said there have inquiries made at City Hall from persons interested in operating dispensaries as a “store-front type business.”

And, she asked, “Do you allow people to grow here?”

Mayor John Kamler chimed in that he believed a local pharmacy would “probably apply if we allow it.”

Tom Lahmeyer, chairman of the P&Z group, added that if the city allowed dispensaries to operate in the city, “at least  Owensville would get some taxation..”

Along with local sales taxes, medical marijuana and related cannabis-infused edible products will also be taxed an additional 4 percent which is designated for the Missouri Veterans’ Health and Care Fund established through voter approval of Amendment 2 in November 2018.

The Missouri Municipal League provided its member cities a list of talking points to assist planning commissions and elected officials address the immediate concerns related to this new industry.

Hernandez told Owensville officials that St. Clair’s governing board dropped the 1,000-foot restriction down to 750 feet. Sullivan was also scheduled for a “big discussion on distances,” he told the group based on what he had been told.

Sullivan officials were planning to hold a public hearing on the subject last night (Tuesday).

Hernandez said cities are typically addressing zoning classifications for the growing of marijuana plants and production of edible products through M-1 (manufacturing) designations. Sales of finished products are typically allowed in areas zoned as general commercial districts.

Allowances for these types of production and sales would also require approval of conditional use permits, officials on both boards were informed.

Hernandez was tasked with preparing a map of these zoning district’s which reflect locations of schools, churches and day cares.

He did not attend the city’s Board of Aldermen meeting on Monday and the topic was not discussed by the elected officials.

Farrell said she had forwarded the city’s attorney the information received from the MML.

“I just wanted to get this in front of the board,” said Hernandez at the P&Z session.