“What if” Commission Discusses Marijuana Dispensaries

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Thursday June 28, 2012

During the June 13 Planning Commission meeting, Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner shared with members that the state passed a law last year on the therapeutic use of cannabis. The question was raised: what if someone wants to open a dispensary in South Burlington?

Under state law, it is permissible. However, towns such as Stowe have looked into it and have decided to prohibit such dispensaries since they need more information, Conner said.

There are two land use related items under this law, Conner said. The first being that the development shall not be located within 1,000 ft. of preexisting public or private school or any childcare facility. Secondly, there is nothing preventing a municipality from prohibiting the establishment of a dispensary within its boundaries (i.e. Stowe), he said.

In under a decade, this topic has evolved in the state. In 2004, the Vermont General Assembly passed S.76 allowing persons with severe illnesses to be exempt from criminal penalties for using medical marijuana, according to the Department of Public Safety’s Vermont Criminal Information Center (VCIC). Then in 2011, Gov. Shumlin helped to support the legislature’s passing of a bill that will allow up to four medical marijuana dispensaries to be located in the state. According to the June 6 VPR edition on this topic, about 500 people are on the Vermont marijuana registry and that the first dispensaries will open in six to nine months.

A Registration certificate fee would be $20,000 when submitted with the certification and application, and it would cost $30,000 a year to renew the registration, according to VCIC.

Not all Planning Commission members shared their opinions on the matter, but others such as Chris Cole, did:

“People who were certified couldn’t get it or risked breaking the law themselves by growing it or going out on the black market to look for it” Cole said. “It was a necessary action to provide a safe place for people to get the necessary treatment.”

Planning Commission Clerk Jessica Louisos said she heard that there was one trying to open in Burlington. If “that group” does not work out in Burlington, it is possible that the group will turn to South Burlington as its next option.

Commission members requested that staff do an analysis of how it might be regarded in our regulations if an application were to be submitted to the city. Additional information regarding medical marijuana dispensaries can be found on the VCIC site under “Medical Marijuana Registry” at http://vcic.vermont.gov/marijuana_registry.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent