Councilors take into account particular zoning for medical hashish

Nov 27 – City councils appear ready to abandon previous efforts to amend a regulation regulating the licensing of medical cannabis companies.

The move was intended to restrict where commercial cannabis growers and processors could set up within Muskogee parish limits. The proposed changes would have limited new cannabis growers and processors to areas designated for agricultural, light industrial, and heavy industrial uses.

During a recent closed-door meeting, the city councils showed their willingness to consider another option where new applicants would be considered on a case-by-case basis. Assistant City Attorney Matthew Beese said zoning is a method other communities have used and found effective.

If accepted, companies with the specific-use classification would be required to submit plans that include information about the company, the proposed location, the use of the land and its impact on adjacent property owners and the community. He said the planners would hold a public hearing before deciding whether a particular use permit should be granted and that city councils would have a chance to weigh their recommendation.

“The most important thing – and the best part – is that this was tested in court and it wasn’t a Muskogee case,” Beese said. “As long as the city is not arbitrarily arbitrary, the courts will uphold these decisions if there is a rational basis for what we put together.”

Beese said that all existing medical cannabis companies with permits would be incorporated into the new licensing system if adopted.

Traci McGee, Councilor for Station IV, was skeptical of bias. She said that placing medical cannabis companies in a particular category begins the slippery descent of different treatments.

“Now that we know marijuana will be on that list, let’s get started with this committee,” said McGee. “If this committee is already illiterate and biased in its opinion, there will be no permits to grow marijuana.”

The story goes on

Deputy Mayor Derrick Reed raised concerns about the decisions that will be made on a case-by-case basis. He likened it to “making the rules as we go”.

Beese said there was “a general framework” based on “existing zoning regulations”. He said applicants for use-specific permits would first be assessed according to the zoning ordinances for the desired location.

“If it doesn’t really fit or there are objections, analysis comes into play,” said Beese. “So the frame is there.”

City councils are expected to address this issue after the first of the year.