As Amendment 2’s Jan. 1 implementation date draws nearer, Excelsior Spring’s city officials plan and prepare for the use of medical marijuana in the community.
Melinda Mehaffy, economic development director, said because Clay County lies in a large Congressional District, Excelsior may not see a dispensary in our community.
Each district will be allowed 24 dispensaries per district. Mehaffy said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will disperse the dispensary licenses as evenly as possible throughout each district to allow everyone to have access to medical marijuana. Because of District 6’s large size, which encompasses the top third of Missouri, Excelsior will be competing with cities such as Kirkwood, Maryville, Rockport and Brookfield. The close proximity of District 5 further complicates the issue, Mehaffy said. Because of that district’s smaller size, the 24 allowed dispensaries will not be spread out over as great of an area. Excelsior Springs residents will not be required to drive a large distance to a dispensary, which could keep the dispensary and sales tax revenue from the city.
“You’re going to see them in our neighboring communities, which may make it more difficult to have one here,” she said.
City officials continue to draft local ordinances to help regulate the impact on the community. Creators of Amendment 2 wrote it to allow local governments to “enact ordinances or regulations not in conflict with this section, or with regulations enacted pursuant to this section governing the time, place and manner of operations of such facilities.”
Mehaffy said in preparation of drafting the city ordinances, city staff gathered information on how many other Missouri communities handled the issue. She said they did so to help them determine what issues to be most important to the community. Safety became the number one issue for the City, she said.
Because of the cash-only nature of the business, city officials must determine how long they will allow any dispensaries to remain open. They must also decide if they will allow a drive-through. City officials must also determine, Mehaffy said, how the Excelsior Springs Police and Fire Departments will handle any situations that arise.
According to information from Lauber Municipal Law, LLC of Lee’s Summit, who currently assists Missouri cities in determining how they will implement Amendment 2, the Missouri Department of Justice said those obtaining a use permit may be required to turn in their firearms. Because of this, police officers will not be allowed to obtain user permits.
Mehaffy said the state indicated the list of users could also possibly be obtained through Missouri’s Sunshine Law.
Other ordinances being drafted include how regulations will be enforced.
According to Amendment 2, those approved for use permits can only obtain 4 ounces or a 30-day supply at one time. Those who will not cultivate their own supply can obtain an 8 ounce, or a 60-day supply, at one time. No one will be allowed to possess more than 12 ounces at one time.
Patients or caregivers found with a greater supply than allowed by law can still be charged with illegal possession. The amendment does not change any laws regarding recreational use.
“Our public safety department is going to have to write code,” Mehaffy said. “Our fire department is going to have to know how they’re going to handle situations that arise. It’s a much larger issue than individuals have, I think, expected it to be.”
Creators of Amendment 2 did put the state on notice they plan to come back with an amendment allowing recreation use of marijuana after Amendment 2’s implementation, she said.
If Excelsior Springs does not receive a dispensary, they could receive a cultivation center, infusing manufacturing site or testing facility, which will require planning and ordinances of their own. Amendment 2 requires each city to have its local ordinances in place by early August.
City officials will present possible ordinances to the Planning and Zoning Commission in their next meeting to be held 6 p.m., July 16 at the Hall of Waters. Mehaffy said she encourages residents to attend this public meeting to see how medical marijuana will impact the community.