Ordinance sets stage for marijuana sales

Sallisaw's Board of City Commissioners, Wednesday night in a special meeting, set the stage for the sale, growing and distribution of medical marijuana within the City of Sallisaw.

The new Article IX establishes regulations and sets fees for various functions of the sale and distribution of medical marijuana, outlining zoning areas and what is considered a public nuisance.

The board had considered the ordinance last month in an effort to get ahead of the act becoming law. Voters approved State Question 788 on June 26 that legalizes the cultivation, processing, distribution and prescribing medical marijuana. It became law on July 26.

Board members voted to table the ordinance during that meeting last month when an attorney general's opinion said the Oklahoma State Board of Health overstepped its authority in adding new rules contrary to what the voters approved. In particular, the board of health added a rule that banned smokeable marijuana sales  and another that required a licensed pharmacist  be at each marijuana dispensary during business hours.

Commissioner Shannon Vann expressed concern at that meeting last month that the city had added a number of zoning areas that did not follow what the voters approved.

Under the law, a retail marijuana establishment, marijuana processing and distribution facility, wholesale marijuana facility, commercial marijuana growing facility or marijuana storage facility will be denied a permit if the proposed location is within 1,000 feet of a private or public school, vocational or trade school, college or university.

The city's ordinance allows a permit to be granted to a retail establishment, marijuana processing and distribution, wholesale marijuana and marijuana facilities  within the city limits to be located within commercially zoned areas C-2, C-3, or C-4. None will be permitted in the downtown area particularly zoned a fire district. The ordinance allows for a commercial growing facility to be permitted within I-1 industrial zone or within an A-1 agricultural zoned area provided the agricultural area is not adjacent to a residential zoned area or a commercial zoned area such as the C-2, C-3, and C-4 mentioned above. The same rule applies for the downtown area zoned as a fire district.

Commissioner Phillip Gay felt the commission still had some time to work on the ordinance further, saying he didn't believe anything would be done until after the election.

While Mayor Ernie Martens agreed somewhat with Gay, he said the city needed to have something in place because the governor has already signed off on the law.

“We have to establish where we can have retail sales. We've restricted that to certain areas,” Sallisaw City Attorney John Robert Montgomery said. “We may have to change something in there but I believe this is the place to start. We may have to modify it later.”

“I like that it has some stiff licensing fees. I think this is a good ordinance. It's a good start,” Martens said.

“We would have 14 days to act on an application and the state is on a timeline as well,” Commissioner Shannon Vann said. “We need to have zoning. The state has a requirement to not unduly restrict.”

“I struck some of the original ordinance due to the attorney general's opinion,” Montgomery said.

The city's ordinance requires operators of retail marijuana establishments, marijuana processing and distribution facilities, wholesale marijuana facilities, commercial marijuana growing facilities or marijuana storage facilities  to obtain an occupational business license and marijuana establishment permit from the municipal clerk. A “personal” growing facility is required to obtain a marijuana establishment permit for personal medical use from the municipal clerk.

The retail marijuana establishment occupational business license and marijuana establishment permit fee is $600 per year. The marijuana processing  and distribution facility, wholesale marijuana facility or commercial growing facility license and permit fee is $1,500 per year. A marijuana storage facility will be $2,500 per year, and a “personal” (personal medical use) marijuana growing facility license and permit is $500 per year.

The ordinance further sets out conditions, permit inspections, other requirements and what constitutes a public nuisance. 

The commission unanimously approved the ordinance with an emergency clause.

Sequoyah County Times

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