GRANDVIEW, Mo. — Cities across Missouri are preparing regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries before the state approves the facilities.
Jackson County is leading the state for the number of prepaid applications for dispensaries as well as cultivation and manufacturing facilities.
Although the formal application process won't begin until Aug. 3, application fees for 104 facilities have already been paid.
In Grandview, city leaders held a second public hearing Tuesday night for a proposal regulating the businesses.
Leaders in Kansas City will host a second meeting Thursday on drafted regulations.
When voters approved Amendment 2 in 2018, it legalized medical cannabis. The state recommends all dispensaries and related facilities be at least 1,000 feet away from churches, schools and day care facilities. But each city can modify those regulations.
Grandview plans to retain the 1,000 foot buffer for dispensaries around schools, but the proposal reduces it to 500 feet around churches and does not place a buffer around day care centers. There is also no buffer for cultivation and manufacturing facilities.
"If we drew a 1,000 foot buffer around each of those entities, churches, schools and day cares, there wouldn't be a lot of land left for marijuana facilities to be located," Grandview City Attorney Joe Gall explained.
Gall emphasized the city must ensure medical marijuana is accessible, which the constitutional amendment requires.
Five people showed up to speak at the public hearing at the end of a Grandview board of aldermen meeting.
Several people hoping to enter the medical marijuana business urged the city to quickly resolve zoning.
"Nobody is allowed in one of these facilities that doesn't have a prescription from a doctor, so it's not like you can just freelance come in and say I want drugs," Jess Davis, a partner in a potential dispensary, said.
Others who spoke expressed concerns about the reduced buffer distance around churches and day cares.
"The standards that you set today for medical marijuana are probably going to be used for recreational facilities that may soon follow," Alan Kinder, a pastor said, "I believe that has a very large potential for a negative impact on our community."
At the first meeting reviewing its proposed regulations, the KCMO City Plan Commission recommended eliminating the buffer around dispensaries, but keeping it at 750 feet around cultivation or testing facilities.
The Kansas City Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will continue the discussion at its meeting at 8:45 a.m. Thursday on the 26th floor of city hall.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will stop accepting applications for medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation facilities on August 17 and will approve or deny the applications by the end of the year.