Cape City Council Settles On Medical Marijuana Buffer Zones For Future Facilities

Jul 3, 2019

A city ordinance proposal regarding medical marijuana, which has lit a lot of discussion among municipalities across the state in recent weeks, has been made into law in Cape Girardeau.

During a Monday meeting, the city council approved Bill No. 19-107 on a 5-2 vote, which establishes buffer zones for medical marijuana facilities within city limits. 

Per the bill, there must be a 500-foot distance between dispensaries and schools or churches. Other facilities, such as cultivators, must be at a 1,000-foot distance. The council also decided that facilities can be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ward 4 councilman Robbie Guard says some potential dispensary owners have come to him with questions on whether the distance requirement can be appealed, like some liquor salespeople in the city are allowed to do.

“I’ve had a lot of people say they wanted to have the same process,” says Guard.  

To change that distance, they would have to obtain a variance through the board of adjustment, which would have the same requirements for other variances before the board.

No one appeared before the Cape Girardeau city council during their public hearing regarding the measure. 

“The people that contacted me are not in favor of the 500 feet, but they’re not the people who are prone to come to attend meetings and come to city council and voice those opinions,” Ward 3 representative Victor Gunn said of the low attendance.

During discussion of the measure, Stacy Kinder of Ward 6 proposed an amendment extending all buffer zones for medical marijuana facilities to 1,000 feet. 

She thought these facilities, which some council members compared to pharmacies, would soon be producing marijuana for recreational use in a short time, anyways.

“That’s an assumption on my part, but I think it’s a fair projection,” said Kinder, adding that she didn’t think it was “too cumbersome” to ask people to drive an additional five minutes to access a facility. 

Her measure failed to pass, and the council then voted in favor of the current distances. 

Guard motioned to approve the original measure with Ward 1 representative Dan Presson seconding.

“I’m completely happy with what Planning and Zoning came back with,” said Guard. “We had 250 people, that 40% said they agreed with 200 feet across the whole community.”

Guard thanked staff for their work on the project and for their efforts getting the recommendations by the Planning and Zoning Commission. 

Other actions by the council included extending Ward 4 to areas recently annexed to the Cape Girardeau city limits. 

Ward 4’s Victor Gunn had his last night on the council that evening. His resignation takes effect July 8th.

“I’m thankful to have had Victor as a mayor pro-tem,” says Mayor Bob Fox, who awarded him a plaque in honor of his tenure of five years on the city council.

They also discussed an application process to appoint a replacement, which leaves about a month open for applicants.