Cities considering rules on medical marijuana

Municipal jurisdictions with planning and zoning rules are grappling with how to handle Missouri's voter-approved medical marijuana law.

Local governments are trying to decide how they'll regulate the dispensaries. Some want to prevent these entities from being close to schools, day cares and churches, presuming that the sale and purchasing of marijuana, still illegal at the federal level, may have detrimental effects to places where children will be. Others argue that the state has made the dispensaries legal businesses that will already be highly regulated, and should be treated similarly to a pharmacy or even a place that sells alcohol.

And so as we've seen recently, area towns are landing in different regulatory spots.

Cape Girardeau's planning and zoning commission originally recommended a 1,000-foot buffer zone from schools, day cares and churches, but after a bit of conversation and compromise will recommend a 500-foot buffer to the city council. Councilmen have argued on both sides, some suggesting a 200-foot buffer, and others wanting 1,000. The 500-foot buffer would allow for dispensaries in the downtown area.

In Jackson, meanwhile, the planning and zoning board voted for a 100-foot buffer. Perryville's board of aldermen passed a 100-foot buffer zone, and Poplar Bluff's city council is looking at a 500-foot barrier.

As government reporter Mark Bliss recently reported, non-dispensary businesses would include marijuana-growing and marijuana-infused products operations as well as medical-marijuana transportation facilities.

Missouri will begin accepting medical-marijuana applications from patients and caregivers on June 28, a bit ahead of schedule.

Most of the cities in the area are still considering and debating the issue of regulation on medical marijuana businesses. If you feel strongly one way or the other about the issue, now is a good time to contact your local representative and voice your opinion on the matter.