Columbia discusses boundaries for medical marijuana facilities

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COLUMBIA - Monday night Columbia's Planning and Zoning Commission discussed proposed amendments to where medical marijuana facilities will be allowed within city limits. 

"This is the beginning of a discussion," says Development Services Manager, Patrick Zenner.

The meeting began with an introduction of the four types of medical marijuana facilities that will be allowed in Columbia.

"Cultivation, infused manufacturing, testing and then dispensaries," says Zenner. "Those are the four facility types that we are talking about this evening."

Each facility will also be required to follow certain standards established by city staff.

These standards set guidelines like where these facilities will be permitted to be built. 

The facilities will be required to be at least 1,000 feet from any existing public or private elementary or secondary schools, family day-cares or religious institutions.

This standard has been set by the industry and has been adopted by the City of Columbia, but has not been unanimously agreed upon.

"When we wrote amendment 2, now article 14 of the state constitution we specifically allowed local governments to reduce that buffer zone and the city council should do so," says Dan Viets, a local attorney who attended the meeting.

Viets says he believes that 200 feet would be more than enough distance between medical marijuana facilities and schools and churches.

The committee discussed the concern that not everyone who needs these services will be capable to reach them if they are not centrally located.

"Many of them cannot just jump in a car and drive to some other part of town," says Viets. "There should be at least one dispensary available for patients where the most patients are."

The discussion will continue at a hearing on Thursday, May 9th.