On Monday, the Stillwater City Council approved two applications for Specific Use Permits to develop medical marijuana dispensaries in Stillwater.
Although retail dispensary operations are allowed in areas zoned as Commercial Shopping, Commercial Business or Commercial General as well as areas classified as T5 and T6 in the city’s Form-based Code district, dispensaries require additional review by the City Council.
The councilors discussed their options with City Attorney John Dorman and Development Services Director Paula Dennison before voting on the applications.
Vice-mayor Pat Darlington said one person had contacted the council with concerns about the applications. There were no speakers present either to support or protest them.
State law precludes the city’s ability to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, processing facilities and growers aside from basic zoning and requirements that such businesses be located at least 1,000 feet from a school. There is no similar requirement for minimum distances from parks, daycare centers or recreation facilities like YMCAs, Dorman said.
Before the council voted, Councilor John Wedlake, an M.D. with a neurology practice, took issue with the use of the term “medical marijuana” calling it an oxymoron and saying he doesn’t want to see a medical marijuana dispensary in Stillwater.
“I’ve knocked my head against the wall trying to come up with a way to stop this,” he said.
Wedlake said he has concerns about the long-term impacts of marijuana use because there haven’t been enough studies done.
He distinguished between marijuana and CBD, an extract of the hemp plant that doesn’t contain the psychoactive compound THC and is widely available.
He later said there has been some research that shows there is some promise in potentially using marijuana for management of chronic pain and two specific types of epilepsy.
Dorman told the council that an application could be denied based on land use considerations but denying it solely because it’s a medical marijuana facility is inviting trouble.
“You are free to vote your conscience, Dr. Wedlake,” Mayor Will Joyce said before calling for the vote.
The applications were passed with a 3-1 vote due to the absence of Councilor Amy Dzialowski.
In other business the City Council took the following actions:
Approved a resolution calling for a municipal election on Feb. 9 for council Seat 1 and Seat 2, held by Dzialowski and Councilor Alane Zannotti. A run-off election will be held April 2 if required.
Approved specific use permits for properties located at 423,424, 501 and 505 S. Gray St. and at 514 S. Pine St. The properties will be developed as six bedroom rental homes. Although they are often rented by the bedroom to unrelated people, the structures qualify as single-family homes because they aren’t separate living areas and have only one kitchen.
Approved annexation of properties located at 102, 106, 112, 114, 116, 122 and 124 S. Main Street into the city’s Corridor Redevelopment Area so they can be combined with adjacent lots to the west and developed under form-based code, which offers more flexibility in use and encourages mixed-use development.
The City Council will hold its last meeting of 2018 at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the Stillwater Municipal Building, 723 S. Lewis.