City Council might decide Medical Marijuana regulations Monday

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COLUMBIA - Columbia City Council is expected to vote on plans establishing medical marijuana business licenses at Monday night's city council meeting.

Gail Plemmons, who has stage four liver cancer, said the ability to use medical marijuana will help her deal with the symptoms and take her off a blood thinner. 

"Nausea is a very common and is very annoying," she said.

Plemmons said she currently has no legal prescription drugs that help that symptom and calls medical marijuana a "big life changer."

"It means quality of life," she said. "It means I'm not sick to my stomach all day and can't eat. I lost 20 pounds even with the medical marijuana because I have no appetite."

Lance Dugan, who is one of the over 2,100 people who applied with Missouri's Department of Health and Human Services for a business license involving medical marijuana, said the competition for these licenses will be tough. 

He said he was disappointed DHSS extended the deadline for applications because he finished his application earlier.

DHSS said they extended the deadline because they anticipated a high volume of facility application submissions near the end of the deadline and received over 800 applications in the last 24 hours. 

“While our main goals have always been putting patients first and maintaining integrity of the program, we also think this exemplifies good governance in implementing a complex initiative passed by the overwhelming majority of Missouri voters,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS.

DHSS said a third-party blind scorer will soon begin reviewing and scoring each application. Then they will license 192 dispensaries, 60 cultivation facilities and 86 infusion centers, the bare minimum after Amendment 2 was approved in Novemeber by 65.5% of the vote.

Only those who receive a state license can operate in Columbia, where the competition is expected to increase.   

For example, Columbia will only issue licenses for 7 medical marijuana dispensary facilities and force potential businesses to comply with a series of regulations.

Those regulations include, a one-year residency requirement, a $2,000 application processing fee along with any additional charges in obtaining a criminal record check and a security plan reviewed and approved by the Columbia Police Department.

The security plan requires potential businesses to install and use security cameras, an alarm system, a lighting system outside the building and use of a safe for marijuana storage 

The cameras must monitor and record all areas of the premises, except in restrooms and consultation rooms while a patient is undressed. CPD will also require recordings from security cameras to be maintained for at least 40 hours and be stored at an off-site location or a network through the Internet, called the cloud.

City Council's proposed plan also gives CPD the ability to demand businesses install additional security measures as deemed necessary.

Columbia Public Schools said they are concerned how far a potential dispensary could be from their schools because it could threaten federal funding.

CPS Spokesperson Michelle Baumstark pointed us to the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. 

Businesses who violate the business license will receive a Class B misdemeanor and could be fined up to $10,000.