During their monthly board meeting on Monday, the Desloge Board of Aldermen voted on an ordinance regarding the sale and use of medical marijuana within the city.
An amendment to Missouri’s constitution was approved by voters last November allowing access to medical marijuana and, in anticipation of the amendment’s January effective date, cities across the state have been passing ordinances to regulate the way citizens sell, purchase, and consume the product.
City Administrator Dan Bryan said a few companies and individuals have already approached city officials in regard to opening marijuana dispensaries within the city.
“We have been contacted by a couple different individuals with interest,” Bryan said. “This was prior to us passing the ordinance.
“A lot of those folks who were interested in the dispensaries, before they can apply, have to have a location to put on their application to the state,” explained Bryan. “Now that it’s passed, they’ll be able to see our regulations and they may or may not come back and pursue that.”
The newly passed Desloge medical marijuana ordinance is primarily centered around location stipulations and the operation hours of potential marijuana facilities.
The ordinance states that no marijuana-related facilities shall be operated or maintained within 300 feet of any school, child day care center, church, public library, or public park.
The ordinance further states that no marijuana-related facility shall be operated or maintained within 500 feet of another marijuana-related facility except when marijuana sales represent less than 5% of the dollar volume of business in a state or federally licensed pharmacy.
Allowed hours of operation of medical marijuana facilities are also outlined in the ordinance which states that marijuana dispensary facilities shall be closed to the public and may not conduct sales from 8:01 p.m. until 7:59 a.m.
Consumption of marijuana products is prohibited at any purchase locations with ordinance stating that no marijuana shall be smoked, ingested, or otherwise consumed on the premises of any medical marijuana facility.
To keep the facilities from becoming a nuisance in the areas they intend to operate, the ordinance requires that all medical marijuana businesses install and operate a ventilation system that will prevent any odor of marijuana from leaving the premises of the building. No odors shall be detectable by a person with a normal sense of smell outside of the parcel on which the facility is located.
The Desloge Planning and Zoning Commission held a public meeting regarding marijuana related uses on Aug. 5 and recommended approval of the ordinance to the board of aldermen. On Monday the ordinance was passed unanimously by the board of aldermen and is effective immediately.
Cities drafting medical marijuana ordinances have to take into account that the use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law and subject to prosecution without regard to a claimed medical need. However, the federal government very rarely prosecutes individuals for personal use amounts of marijuana especially in states where residents can be permitted to possess the plant under state law. Likewise, small-scale medical marijuana production and dispensary facility operations are typically not prosecuted under federal law. Federal enforcement efforts were scaled back with the enactment of the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment in December of 2014 prohibiting the U.S. Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.
The United States Department of Justice issued a memorandum entitled “Guidance for Marijuana Enforcement” on Aug. 29, 2013. The memorandum established eight guidelines for States regarding the federal priorities in determining whether or not Federal enforcement should commence against those engaged in specific activities related to marijuana cultivation and distribution. This ordinance places the highest priority on meeting these guidelines, particularly those related to public safety and health, restrictions on availability to minors, and prevention of illegal trafficking and profiteering.
Many area cities have enacted medical marijuana ordinances and most are very similar in that distance regulations and hours of operation are the primary focus of regulation.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at email@example.com.