Medical marijuana dispensaries can now operate in commercial zoning districts in Jefferson City.
Despite concerns from a council member and local organization leader, Jefferson City Council approved 7-1 a bill Monday night that regulates permitted locations for medical marijuana dispensaries and transportation facilities.
Ward 4 Councilman Ron Fitzwater voted against the bill while council members Rick Prather, Rick Mihalevich, Erin Wiseman, David Kemna, Laura Ward, Ken Hussey and Mark Schreiber voted for it. Ward 5 Councilman Jon Hensley abstained from voting and Ward 4 Councilman Carlos Graham was not at the meeting due to a death in the family.
Medical marijuana dispensary facilities — medical marijuana retail establishments — will be permitted uses in C-1 Neighborhood Commercial and C-2 General Commercial zoning districts.
General commercial zoning districts typically consist of general retail establishments, personal services and health care facilities, while neighborhood commercial zoning can include offices, pharmacies, food service establishments and other general retail establishments.
City staff originally recommended the city allow medical marijuana dispensaries only in C-2 Commercial Zoning, but the Jefferson City Planning and Zoning Commission recommended last month that city staff allow medical marijuana dispensaries in neighborhood and general commercial zoning districts.
Joy Sweeney, executive director of the Jefferson City-based Council for Drug Free Youth, said while she understood "it's a very small area adding it to the C-1 district but any time you add more area, it increases access and it increases availability and obviously it's going to increase use by the youth."
She reminded the City Council that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. A Schedule 1 drug, substance or chemical are "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," according to the DEA.
Medical marijuana transportation facilities will be allowed in M-1 Light Industrial and M-2 General Industrial zoning districts.
Medical marijuana dispensaries and transportation facilities will not be permitted within 1,000 feet of any then-existing secondary or elementary schools, child day cares or churches.
While Missouri voters approved a ballot measure last November that legalized medical marijuana, Fitzwater said, he was concerned there would be "unintended consequences" as a result of that law, such as policing.
Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder said the police department has concerns regarding medical marijuana and community safety.
"How that manifests, we don't know yet, and the degree of impact on us and whether it will cost us, the city, to address that increase safety issue is left to be determined and, of course, that would be determined by the council but there is concern regarding that evolution," he said.
In May, the City Council approved a bill allowing medical marijuana cultivation and testing facilities and medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities in M-1 Light Industrial and M-2 General Industrial zoning districts.
These three facilities are also not allowed within 1,000 feet of any then-existing secondary or elementary schools, day cares and churches.
A medical marijuana cultivation facility is a facility that farms, stores, transports and sells medical marijuana.
A medical marijuana testing facility is a facility that acquires, tests, certifies and transports medical marijuana.
A medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility is a facility that specializes in marijuana-infused products.
In other business Monday, the council reviewed a $79,115 engineering design contract with HDR. Inc. to help stabilize a section of the Missouri River bank.
The city has a large sanitary sewer between the Union Pacific Railway and the Missouri River, east of the confluence with Wears Creek. The river bank is severely eroded and "the vital sewer main could be compromised by continued erosion," according to the proposed bill.