To date, six different would-be business owners have started the process of filing the necessary information with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Christian County.
The Nixa City Council voted 6-0 to create zoning regulations for dispensaries and other businesses related to medical marijuana at a meeting June 24.
Casey Belew of Springfield hopes to open a business called CannaBelew’s Dispensary in Nixa.
“We just want to do it the right way,” Belew said.
Belew told the Nixa City Council that she anticipates a competitive dispensary market in the Springfield metro area, where patients who are prescribed medical marijuana will be able to shop around. The DHSS reports 24 dispensary licenses are being sought in Greene County.
“Springfield is going to be very competitive, there is a lot going on up there. As far as Nixa and these areas down south, there aren’t as many dispensaries. We’d like to give people some options down here instead of taking that money up to Springfield,” Belew said.
Belew told the Nixa City Council that she has a pharmacy technician’s background and also has experience working with medical cannabis patients.
“Right now I work one-on-one with adults who have physical and mental disabilities, so I have seen firsthand what medical marijuana can really do in our community and what opiates have kind of stopped,” Belew said. “That’s my push for medical marijuana is to clean up some of the opiates in areas like this.”
Nixa Director of Planning and Development Travis Cossey gave an overview of the medical marijuana zoning ordinance prior to the vote June 24. Cossey explained that Nixa considered four major types of businesses related to medical marijuana for zoning regulation and broke them up into categories of cultivation, testing, infused product manufacturing and dispensaries.
“Three of the four—infused products, cultivation and testing—we established zoning districts including our M-1 light industrial zoning and our M-2 heavy manufacturing zoning to incorporate those uses,” Cossey said. “The fourth use, dispensaries, we’ll provide in our commercial-zoned districts, looking at the use as a light use of a pharmacy. We understand that the dispensaries are set up in the state of Missouri to mirror a pharmacy.”
On Nov. 6, 2018, Missouri voters passed Amendment 2 by popular vote, which established medical marijuana as a product that could be produced and sold in Missouri. All six of Nixa’s voting precincts had popular vote tallies in favor of Amendment 2, with a citywide average of 58.5 percent of voters in Nixa approving the adoption of medical marijuana. Cossey explained that the state law allows cities to create buffer zones of up to 1,000 feet of separation between medical marijuana businesses and schools, churches and daycare facilities. However, no city may enact zoning regulations that are “unduly burdensome” in effort to zone out medical marijuana.
“Looking at the city’s makeup and the locations of those churches, schools and daycares within the community, we provided a separation of 1,000 feet from schools, 500 feet from licensed daycares and 250 feet from all churches,” Cossey said.
Belew, the would-be dispensary owner, commended the city council and Cossey and his staff for working to create an agreeable ordinance.
“Travis has done an incredible on this so far with making the zoning appropriate and making this fair for wanting to open a dispensary,” Belew said.
Cossey suggested the Nixa Industrial Park, located west of U.S. Highway 160 along Kathryn Street, as a possible location for marijuana cultivation, testing and production facilities. Dispensaries may be placed in commercial areas such as the U.S. Highway 160 corridor.
The day after the Nixa City Council adopted its medical marijuana zoning ordinance, the Department of Health and Senior Services unveiled an interactive map on its website showing where medical marijuana businesses could open once licenses are issued and active at the end of 2019.
The official business application period for medical marijuana business licensing begins Aug. 3.
The map shows Christian County has prospective applicants for six dispensaries and three cultivation operations. To date, no one has pre-filed any information about a manufacturing operation in Christian County.
Onsite marijuana usage at a dispensary is prohibited under Nixa’s ordinance, which means marijuana may not be “smoked, ingested or otherwise consumed” unless authorized by state law and deemed necessary for the purposes of operating a licensed testing facility.