After approving the placement of a proposed 3% tax on the sale of recreational marijuana in Farmington on the April ballot, the city council held a public hearing Thursday night as it considers changes to city zoning regulations regarding the sale of medical marijuana that would be expanded to include its sale for recreational purposes.
“Mr. Mayor, on the screen, this kind of showed how it kind of went around the state,” said Tim Porter, director of Development Services. “The green areas represent counties that passed Amendment 3. The red areas are areas that did not. But overall, it was about 53% to 47% in favor. In Farmington, we were at about 51% to 49%. So our city kind of matched the county and the state. Friday of last week, the state began the approval process for dispensaries around the state.
“And I sent you all an email, I believe, last week. It kind of took everybody by surprise. It wasn’t supposed to be done until, I believe, Monday of this week. So they were ahead of the curve a little bit. But, basically, what Amendment 3 does is it says that if you were a medical dispensary, you could apply for a comprehensive license that would allow you to sell both medical marijuana and adult-use marijuana — meaning for those 21 and older.
“And so [City Administrator Greg Beavers] and I talked, and the only way that we could, I guess, you as city council could ask for that not to be legal would be to place it on a ballot in the November of 2024 presidential election. Even then, it would require I believe what they call a supermajority. So, we said, if you got your license go ahead and sell it. One of our dispensaries had some technical issues, and they weren’t able to open. I don’t know where they’re at in getting that cleaned up, but we had another one that got theirs, and we went ahead and told them, you know, it’s okay for you to have that license from the state.
“You gotta follow the rest of our rules, you know, in terms of hours of operation or, you know, requirements that were in existence already. But these are not new facilities, these are existing ones. So, the ordinance before you tonight, which Planning and Zoning recommended at last month’s meeting, takes our medical marijuana ordinance and makes it into kind of a comprehensive ordinance that includes both medical and adult use.”
According to Porter, the definition section of the city’s existing medical marijuana ordinance has been rewritten.
“We changed a few things, and we moved it from our general zoning definition portion,” he said. We moved it down specifically to the section related to marijuana. So the reason why we thought that was important was because there’s some specific definitions that are related only to medical marijuana. Other than that, it’s pretty much just taking the existing ordinance and adapting it to include adult-use marijuana. The locations in terms of where you can sell, grow, manufacture, infuse, all that’s pretty much the same as what it was before. It’s just that this kind of makes the ordinance in compliance, we believe, with Amendment 3.
Porter emphasized that marijuana has only been legalized in the state for recreational users who are 21 years of age or older.
“It’s illegal for anyone under 21 to be in possession of marijuana in any amount,” he said. “If you’re under 21 years of age, you’re in violation. Over three ounces, if you’re over 21, you can’t possess. And there are some other tricky things like, it’s illegal to consume it if you’re the passenger in a motor vehicle, it’s kind of like an open container. You can’t be using it even as a passenger in a motor vehicle. And some things like that.”
There were no questions from the public at the hearing and it was adjourned by Mayor Larry Forsythe. Later in the meeting, the council voted unanimously on the first reading of the proposed ordinance change. A second reading on the matter will take place at the council’s next meeting.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or email@example.com