By Joe Barker, Union Missourian Editor
A public hearing is scheduled for Monday night to discuss zoning regulations related to medical marijuana.
The hearing is related to the city’s effort to amend it zoning ordinance to include medical marijuana-related industries. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.
The city is considering adopting four new zoning assignments for the four potential facilities.
Medicinal marijuana was legalized in Missouri in November 2018 through a constitutional amendment approved by voters. The plan is to have the new industry implemented by the end of 2019.
Before the ball gets rolling, the city is taking the necessary steps to prepare for the facilities — even though City Administrator Russell Rost said they might not even come to Union.
Rost said according to the amendment that legalized it, the city can’t place any extra burdensome restrictions on operations relating to medical marijuana.
In order to comply with the law, and to avoid the risk of a future lawsuit, the city needed to begin discussing how to handle medical marijuana. The first step was taken at the March meeting of the city’s planning and zoning commission.
The city’s plan board backed four proposed zoning districts for marijuana operations. That recommendation was passed on to aldermen and those proposed zoning designations will be discussed Monday night.
There are four types of operations the city needs to prepare for, Rost said. The operations are medical cultivation facilities, marijuana-infused product facilities, dispensaries and medical testing facilities.
The cultivation operation is where the marijuana is grown, Rost said. Since it’s an agricultural activity, it makes sense to allow it in the city’s nonurban zoning district, he added.
Because of potential security concerns, Rost said he felt the cultivation should require a conditional use permit (CUP) in the nonurban district. He said a CUP would allow the board to put stringent security requirements on growers.
The marijuana-infused product facilities are places where the grown product is transferred and put in various other products. Rost said this is considered a separate operation from growing.
Since it’s manufacturing, he suggested it should be allowed in the industrial I-1 zoning district with a CUP. The CUP could be used to restrict odor and hours, Rost said.
The dispensary is where the marijuana is sold to consumers who have state approved medical cards. Rost said the process is regulated by the state and already very secure. He said the operation is similar to a pharmacy and pharmacies are allowed in the B-2 zoning district.
He said dispensaries could be allowed in the B-1 downtown zoning district with a CUP. The B-1 district has fewer restrictions on setbacks, he said.
The final proposed zoning district was the medical testing facilities. Rost said while it’s unlikely one opens in Union, the city still needed an appropriate zoning district.
He proposed I-1 with a conditional use permit. He said I-1 is where the city has other labs.
Any operation will have to be at least 1,000 feet away from any church or school.