After a controversial hearing in which Savannah city council members likened the medical marijuana dispensary zoning ordinance to racism and racism, the group voted 6-3 to approve it.
The Savannah City Council has approved a new zoning classification for cannabis dispensaries. This mainly reflects pharmacies, with many conditions attached to their location. Director of Planning and Urban Design Bridget Liddy said the designation is probably the city’s most restrictive zoning classification.
District 1 Alderman Bernetta Lanier, Congressman Alicia Miller Blakely, and Kesha Gibson-Carter, who voted against, took issue with one of the zoning ordinance’s specific restrictions, citing alcohol. It argued that pharmacies could not be located within the Concentration Overlay District. Black communities are included in most cases.
“We say we don’t want this medical use near black people because they don’t get sick?” Lanier said. “Historically, zoning has been used as a barrier to eliminate racism, and here we are again.”
Medical cannabis is an ‘evolving field’
The city does not issue licenses to sell medical cannabis. Only states can issue medical marijuana licenses, and that only started in April.
City manager Jay Melder frequently noted that the city council votes on where medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed through ordinances based on ever-changing state laws on medical marijuana use.
“For medical cannabis, we do not have the authority to authorize or license medical cannabis dispensing dispensaries. ‘, said Melder.
Mayor Van Johnson said the zoning classification will prepare for zoning recreational dispensaries should the state legalize marijuana in the future.
“The challenge is that the field is evolving rapidly. That’s what it means,” Johnson said. Or do you buy an umbrella before it rains? “
What does the ordinance say?
So far, the state has issued five medical marijuana licenses to two companies, Botanical Sciences LLC and Trulieve GA, with dispensaries in Cobb, Bibb, and Chatham counties. Both Chatham County stores are located in Pooler, with one of the stores expected to open in July.
more:Pooler: Coming soon to medical cannabis dispensaries. Here’s what you should know:
Following a city council vote, pharmacies now have clear, if not restrictive, guidelines for where they are allowed to open in the city.
The city officials’ recommendation was the result of a survey of other communities that have enacted similar ordinances. The Proposal Council, which was approved Thursday, mimics pharmacy zoning classifications because customers will need a prescription to purchase low-THC cannabis products.
Medical cannabis dispensaries are permitted under the same zoning classification as dispensaries, but with more conditions.
To be heard by Congress, a cannabis dispensary applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Provide the city with a malfunction safety plan and failsafe and require Savannah Police Department approval.
- The use of flashing lights, searchlights, spotlights or similar lighting is prohibited in pharmacies. There are no electronic signs or bulletin boards.
- Business hours must be from 6am to 10pm
- Pharmacies should be located in separate buildings.
- Cannabis is not permitted on the premises.
- It is not possible to enter the alcohol concentration overlay area.
- Applicants must submit a state medical cannabis dispensary or medical cannabis dispensary license.
Additionally, medical cannabis dispensaries within 600 feet of public areas such as civic areas such as botanical gardens and cemeteries, community service facilities such as libraries, museums, post offices, police and fire stations, day care services, schools, colleges and universities. cannot be installed. of worship, detention and correctional facilities, medical facilities, restaurants and package stores.
What is the history of medical cannabis legalization?
Passed under the HOPE Act in 2019, medical cannabis is prescribed to patients as an oil containing 5% or less of THC (the chemical found in marijuana that produces psychoactive effects). The law did not legalize smoking or vaping cannabis to act as a pain reliever for patients with various conditions. Medical cannabis is legal in 37 states.
In July 2021, the Georgia legislature passed a bill allowing medical marijuana treatment and distribution only for low-THC products.
A year later, the Savannah City Council adopted a resolution suspending the granting of local licenses or permits related to the sale of medical cannabis for 180 days, then extended for another 180 days in October 2022. According to these resolutions, this was to give the city time to develop a security plan for zoning districts and pharmacies.
Georgia’s medical marijuana law does not legalize the cultivation, sale or possession of the plant in its leaf form. Edible cannabis is similarly illegal, even if the product is infused with low-THC oil.