ELLISVILLE, Mo. – The city of Ellisville has approved regulations about when and where a patient will be able to purchase medical marijuana in its municipality. It is a proactive move by the city since the state of Missouri will not begin accepting medical marijuana business applications until August.
Ellisville Mayor Mike Roemerman said it was not a decision the city council came to lightly. They have been discussing these regulations for more than a year, and the council voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve zoning changes.
"Our council members were kind of from one end to the other in terms of how much we regulate it, and we really came, really, on the tighter end of the regulation than some would've liked," Roemerman said.
The city will be able to vet potential business applicants, so they can find the best fit for their community, Roemerman said. Approved applicants will be issued a conditional use permit.
"We have a lot of schools and daycares and churches in Ellisville, so we've got to be very careful with that," he said.
State law suggests a minimum of 1,000 feet between dispensaries and churches and schools. The Ellisville City Council approved a 300-foot minimum.
"If we did a thousand-foot distance in Ellisville, we put it up on a map, and it basically eliminated all the commercial areas of Ellisville, so we had to scale that back," Roemerman said.
The mayor said "four or five applicants" have expressed interest in opening medical marijuana operations in Ellisville. Applicants will need to include a proposed business address on the application they submit to the state, he said.
Roemerman expects applicants will have their eye on commercial districts along Manchester, Clarkson, and Old state roads. Due to the cost of land in Ellisville and its limited availability, Roemerman does not expect any outdoor cultivation operations to open.
The council also approved dispensaries to operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Roemerman said he understands some residents may be concerned about a medical marijuana business opening in the city. He said some who expressed opposition at the public meeting fear allowing medical marijuana sales in the city will lead to legal recreational sales of the drug.
"None of the things that we did last night would apply to that," he said. "That would be a completely different animal that would be treated separately 100 percent."
The mayor said the council discussed the proposal with the Ellisville Police Department before voting in favor of the changes.
Maryland Heights passed zoning regulations for medical marijuana earlier this year. Creve Coeur, Webster Groves, and Columbia, Missouri are considering similar requirements.