Medical marijuana rules to consider

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Poplar Bluff City Council is considering how to handle the budding medical marijuana businesses that will be able to sprout up in Missouri soon.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended a 500-foot parameter be established between dispensaries, or other related facilities, and schools, churches and state-licensed day cares. The council could choose a buffer up to 1,000 feet when it is scheduled to take a vote at its July 15 meeting.

In making its recommendation, the commission said a 1,000-foot buffer would leave fewer options and push the businesses out of the city and into the county, which does not have zoning requirements. That would cost the city sales tax money. There is no zoning requirements for pharmacies.

Voters approved medical marijuana with 68% of the statewide vote. Here in Butler County, 58% of voters approved the measure.

While marijuana use is still considered illegal by the federal government, 11 states do allow recreational marijuana. This is not that. Missouri will become one of 33 states that allows marijuana use for medical purpose.

Qualifying medical conditions include terminal illness, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment, a chronic medical condition that causes severe, persistent pain or persistent muscle spasms such as multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome. Debilitating psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress, also qualify, or when a physician determines that marijuana could be effective in treating a condition and would serve as a safer alternative to the prescription medication.

Both patients and businesses will be relegated by the state.

At least four dispensary operations and two cultivation facilities have been proposed for Butler County, according to data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which is taking pre-applications for medical marijuana operations. DHSS will begin accepting applications on Aug. 3 for businesses and applications for patient identification card this week.

Once a business opens, there are even rules about what can be on the sign outside the facility according to the law.

“Signage and advertising on facility premises must … not display marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, or advertisements for these items in a way that is visible to the general public from a public right-of-way.

“Outdoor signage and, if visible to the public, interior signage, … may not display any text other than the facility’s business name or trade name, address, phone number, and website; and may not utilize images or visual representations of marijuana plants, products, or paraphernalia, including representations that indicate the presence of these items, such as smoke.”

If a facility opened within a stone’s throw or the length of three football fields (1,080 feet) it likely would go unnoticed.

Meanwhile, the amount of new tax dollars medical marijuana will bring in is nothing to blow smoke at.

The state has brought in $3.9 million in pre-application fees alone as of June 20, according to DHSS. There will be a 4% tax on the retail price that will go toward a Veterans’s Health and Care fund, as well as any general state and local sales and use taxes that apply to retail sales.

Poplar Bluff is not the only city working towards a solution.

A survey of 160 residents in Cape Girardeau found that 40.6% favored a buffer of 200 feet while another 31.3% preferred the 1,000-foot buffer, the Southeast Missourian reported.

Since the city of Poplar Bluff is not conducting a survey, we will post one on our website. We also urge you to reach out and let your elected officials know how you feel.

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