During a Wednesday meeting, the Jackson Planning and Zoning Commission discussed how far future medical marijuana facilities should be placed away from churches, schools, and daycares in the city.
“Buffer zones,” as these distances have come to be known, are a topic that municipalities across the state have been tossing up for weeks. In November, Missouri voters approved an amendment which legalized medical marijuana, and left it up to cities to set zoning rules on where dispensaries, labs, cultivation centers, and testing facilities could be located.
A 100-foot buffer zone came highly recommended by the commission. It was approved 6 to 1, while two board members were absent.
Some members compared buffer zones to current regulations on bars.
“My question would be: why should it be any different than an alcohol establishment?” member Wade Bartels said.
Commission member Harry Dryer considered the current abuse of prescription medication across the country, an issue he says is “causing more harm and more deaths than marijuana ever has.”
“We have drug stores on almost every corner,” said Dryer, an observation several other council members agreed with.
Member Tony Koeller said one major concern of his came from a recent trip to Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, and where he claimed the smell was pungent.
“You could smell it from quite a ways away,” said Koeller. “So, I mean, would the smell bother people?”
It was also suggested that they look to their neighbor, Cape Girardeau, and consider their decision on buffer zones - a meeting that was happening that same night.
No members of the public attended or testified Wednesday night, though one letter was read requesting that a 1,000 foot buffer zone, as recommended by the state, be maintained.