Marijuana zoning under tight security

(MCT Campus Photo) Medical Marijuana dispensaries could see strict zoning regulations.

(MCT Campus Photo) Medical Marijuana dispensaries could see strict zoning regulations.

Bloomington is planning a stringent approach to the zoning rules and regulations for medical marijuana.

The city of Bloomington recently had a second public hearing on proposed zoning changes to address medical marijuana. The first hearing was not advertised enough, Frank Koehler, interim economic development coordinator for Bloomington, said.

A public notice was not published for the first hearing, so a second hearing was deemed necessary.

The Bloomington Planning Commission recommended allowing a medical marijuana dispensary, where the marijuana is sold, only in very specific places.

City governments can recommend specific zoning rules, as long as they do not interfere with state regulations.

Bloomington’s recommendation allows dispensaries in three business categories, three commercial categories and two manufacturing categories.

Cultivation centers, where the marijuana is grown, are permitted only in two manufacturing categories.

Koehler said the reason the recommendation is so specific is that individuals who want to have dispensaries or cultivation centers must submit applications to the state. The form requires that the desired locations comply with local zoning regulations. With the specific regulations and precise language, there will be less room for confusion, Koehler said.

The state regulations, though, are less specific, he said. According to the state, cultivation centers must be 2,500 feet from any residential building, school or day care. A dispensary must be 1,000 feet from any schools or day cares and cannot be inside of any residential area.

“You could say we took the state’s standards and amplified them,” Koehler said.

Koehler said that he is aware that other cities are handling the zoning rules differently and taking a more “backseat approach.”

The commission’s recommendation did not get passed unanimously. James Pearson and Ryan Scritchlow voted against it.

“They thought the state standards were specific enough,” Koehler said.

The recommendation did pass and it will go to the Bloomington City Council for a final vote Sept. 8.

“The state requirements are very strict,” said Mercy Davison, Normal town planner.

“Medical marijuana is being treated as a prescription medication, so we are treating the dispensaries as pharmacies.”

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