How to zone any potential businesses dealing in medical marijuana will be addressed by the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen during work sessions in the coming months.
During last Thursday’s board meeting, city administrator Martin Toma presented the issue of zoning for marijuana-based businesses, one that cities and counties across Missouri are dealing with since voters in November approved Amendment 2, one of three medical marijuana proposals on the ballot.
The constitutional amendment allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s.
Calling it the state’s “hot issue,” Toma outlined how the Ste. Genevieve zoning system works, which he said “is progressive in terms of the intensity of use.”
Agriculture is the least intensive. It is allowed in any zone.
“Then you have R-1 as a zoned district,” he said, “and R-1 says you can do anything you can do under agriculture and you can build a house.”
R-2 and commercial zones also allow what was permissible in previous zones, including agriculture. Only industrial zones do not allow agriculture within them.
“I think growing a plant is agriculture,” Toma said. “So I think you could arguably grow a plant in any zoned district in Ste. Genevieve … indoors or outdoors.”
Processing the marijuana would be a different situation, he said.
“Processing would be a manufacturing activity and would need to occur in either our light industrial or our industrial zone,” Toma said.
The city can either take action or allow things to follow current ordinances, Toma said.
“If we do nothing, you can grow marijuana anywhere,” he said. “I think you’re limited in processing to light industrial or industrial. I think you could rent or own any storefront and open a dispensary because it’s a legal product. If you have a business license, you can do it.” …
City attorney Mark Bishop said he agreed with what Toma had said, but added that getting a license to grow, process or sell marijuana is a difficult enough process that the city isn’t likely to be overwhelmed by requests.
“There’s a cumbersome process they go through to get the license,” Bishop said. “So, talking about zoning ordinances, yes, in theory you can grow it anywhere, but you can only grow it if you have a cultivator’s license through the state. The fee for that … initially is $10,000 just to apply for it and then the annual fee is $25,000.”
To run a dispensary, Bishop said, the application fee is $6,000, with a $10,000 annual fee. He also said that only 24 dispensaries are allowed in each congressional district. Since Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District has 30 counties, he suggested that “it may not be practical” to expect more than one in the county.