MEDICAL marijuana

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COLUMBIA- The Columbia City Council proposed regulations Monday for the licensing of medical marijuana facilities. The city would begin accepting applications Oct. 1.

City Counselor Nancy Thompson and Assistant City counselor Jose Caldera presented the regulations.

On Saturday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began accepting license applications from business owners for a role in the medical marijuana market. Prior to Saturday, they could only file pre-application forms and pay fees in advance.

The council said a maximum of seven city licenses would be issued for medical marijuana dispensaries in 2020. Applicants would be chosen based on a 50-point scoring system.

Under the proposal, businesses that are minority-owned, women-owned, or disabled-veteran-owned enterprise would receive a higher score. Businesses that are locally owned or more than one and a half miles away from city hall would also receive a higher score.

Steven Sapp is the director of Columbia Community Relations. He said while the proposed regulations are a big step in the process, the legalization of medical marijuana is still in its very early stages.

"It's going to be an interesting thing to watch. We've reached out and followed other states that have legalized medical marijuana. We certainly want it to go smoothly," Sapp said.

The council also said more dispensary licenses could become available as the city population grows.

Sapp said there's no timeline for a decision to be made on the proposed regulations.