By BOB LEWIS
Broken Arrow has a new set of rules and regulations affecting those who want to be part of the medical marijuana industry. If and when they will be in place, however, will be up to the state legislature and a district judge to decide.
Following the City Council’s unanimous adoption of two new ordinances on Sept. 18 Attorney Ron Durbin, who represents the activist group Green the Vote, called them government overreach and was quoted as saying the ballot measure approved by voters which created the fledgling industry doesn’t give cities the authority to adopt regulations like these.
At that time, he warned he would likely file a lawsuit against the city by Friday of that week. He kept that promise on Sept. 25. A temporary restraining over was issued three days later.
Following that action, a statement was released by the city quoting Mayor Craig Thurmond as saying, “The City Council and I are disappointed in the decision. We will appeal the court’s ruling immediately. While we respect the recent vote of the people on SQ 788, we believe all Oklahoma cities have the authority to have common sense rules and regulations in place for medical marijuana businesses in their communities.”
City Attorney Trevor Dennis did however decry the lack of guidance coming from the state Capitol on how to proceed. That can’t happen until the legislature reassembles in February unless a special session is called.
Taking the legal spotlight are two regulations.
Ordinance 3540 allows medical marijuana dispensaries in Commercial Mixed Use, Downtown Mixed Use, Commercial Neighborhood and Commercial Heavy zoning districts. They are also permissible within Area 6 and 7 of the Downtown Residential Overlay District. Commercial growing facilities and processors are permitted in Industrial Light or Industrial Heavy zoning districts as long as the plants are within a building.
Ordinance 3542 requires operators of a medical marijuana dispensary, a commercial grower or processer to maintain a valid commercial establishment license from the Oklahoma Department of Health as well as a City of Broken Arrow operating permit. Each permit costs $2,500 and must be renewed annually.
Dispensers, growers and processors are not allowed to operate within a structure that is less than 1,000 feet from a public or private school entrance.
Ordinance 3542 also deals with medical marijuana growing facilities for personal use.
Under it, a qualified patient or caregiver license holder can grow marijuana on property owned by that individual or on rental property for which they have the property owner’s written permission. Regardless of location, all home-grown medical marijuana plants must be in restricted areas that are not accessible to the public.