Like it or not, recreational marijuana use is coming to Missouri. It was approved by voters, and it’s up to the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen to decide what regulations the city should put on its sale and public use.
Janet Sanders, manager of the Building & Planning Department, discussed zoning issues for recreational marijuana with the board of aldermen during its study session Jan 3.
Missouri municipalities may regulate the time, place, and manner of operation of marijuana facilities as long as the regulations are not “unduly burdensome” on the ability to operate these businesses.
The state may license facilities that currently sell medical marijuana as “comprehensive” facilities. Separate medical marijuana licenses will also still be available from the state. However, recreational-only licenses will not be available.
Existing licensed medical marijuana facilities were able to apply on Dec. 8 to have their medical licenses converted to comprehensive licenses. They may be converted as early as Feb. 6, meaning they could start selling recreational marijuana on that date.
Jackson has one licensed medical marijuana facility, the Good Day Farm at 1336 Clover Dr., which is awaiting its license conversion.
A second existing business is not intending to apply for a marijuana license, but it intends to sell fertilizers to help grow marijuana, glass pipes and other paraphernalia, and is interested in adding a “smoking lounge” where customers can bring their own marijuana and hang out.
Unless the aldermen take action, recreational marijuana businesses would fall into the “other similar uses” catch-all specified in each of Jackson’s zoning districts. If that happened, applicants for recreational marijuana would have to apply for a special use permit.
City staff would prefer to see an amendment to the zoning code address recreational marijuana instead of using special use permits.
A zoning text amendment requires a public hearing and action at the Planning and Zoning Commission, followed by a public hearing and action at the Board of Aldermen level. This process takes about three months.
Sanders requested guidance from the Board to start drafting a zoning code amendment.
The aldermen indicated that for simplicity’s sake, recreational marijuana should have the same zoning requirements as medical marijuana. Medical marijuana businesses were treated like drugstores and are allowed in the following zones:
• A-1 Agricultural (cultivation facilities only).
• O-1 Professional Office (dispensaries).
• CO-1 Enhanced Commercial Overlay (dispensaries).
• C-1 Local Commercial (dispensaries).
• C-2 General Commercial (dispensaries).
• C-3 Central Business District (dispensaries) (this is primarily the Uptown area).
• C-4 Planned Commercial (dispensaries).
• I-1 Light Industrial (dispensaries, manufacturing, and cultivation).
• I-2 Heavy Industrial (dispensaries, manufacturing, and cultivation).
• I-3 Planned Industrial (dispensaries, manufacturing, and cultivation).
State law says marijuana facilities must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, churches, and daycares, but it allows municipalities to decrease that distance.
Jackson reduced the distance to 500 feet (as the crow flies) for medical marijuana facilities. The aldermen were asked if the distance for recreational marijuana should be reduced to 500 feet as well. Alderman David Hitt recommended that it be lowered to 500 feet to match the distance applied to medical marijuana facilities.
Sanders explained that the method of measuring separation distances has now been clarified by the state. It is not “as the crow flies” but is measured by the route that can legally be followed on foot without trespassing.
The aldermen were not anxious to give blanket approval to “smoking lounges,” “consumption lounges” or other public places for recreational marijuana use. The aldermen liked the idea requiring a special use permit for public consumption, so each applicant would come before the aldermen and their request would be decided on a case-by-case basis.
No hours of operation have been established for marijuana businesses in Jackson. Sanders asked if business hours should be regulated for recreational marijuana sales. Alderman Joe Bob Baker liked a proposal that suggested limiting sales between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Mayor Dwain Hahs mentioned that medical and recreational marijuana will carry the regular state sales tax on purchases. The state has tacked on an additional 6% sales tax on recreational marijuana. The county and city can each add another 3% sales tax on recreational marijuana, making the total sales tax 20%.
To add its 3%, the city must draft an ordinance and pass it at the next aldermen meeting to get the matter on the April ballot. (The additional 3% applies only to the sale of recreational marijuana; it will not be charged on medical marijuana sales.)
“If we have a high interest, we can work up an ordinance and vote on it and put it on the April ballot, or we can wait until the next election,” Hahs said.
Alderman David Reiminger was in favor of moving ahead on the sales tax issue.
An ordinance will be drafted for the next meeting, where it can be further discussed and voted upon.