Yukon sets rules for pot dispensaries

While the first permits have yet to be issued for medical marijuana dispensaries, Yukon has established laws that will limit where they can be located.

The city council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance that sets various limitations on where dispensaries can locate, but also set how much it will charge for local business permits to operate those types of businesses.

The vote was 4-1 in favor of the legislation, with City Council member Shelli Selby voting against the proposal.

Selby, who once was a drug counselor and whose son died due to a drug overdose, said she was torn about the rules before casting her vote.

“I am not a marijuana supporter, but that is not what we are talking about. We’re talking about medical marijuana, and it did get voted on. Where I am torn is do we listen to what I want, which is for all drugs to go away, or listen to what the people I’ve spoken to have to say,” she said.

Selby said she believes that Yukon will regulate itself, because many landlords won’t want to rent to someone who is putting in a dispensary.

Other members of the council said they support the regulation because it does not keep dispensaries from locating in Yukon, although the limitations are substantial.

Under the law, which went into effect immediately, dispensaries cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school, whether it is public or private.

That part of the law is set by state law.

However, Yukon has added the 1,000-foot restriction to also include churches, daycare centers, parks, libraries, museums, halfway houses, correctional facilities, substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment centers, residential areas or another dispensary.

The city has zoning restrictions for other businesses, including liquor stores and bars. However, for bars and liquor stores, the restriction is 300 feet.

Resident Elaine Burris voiced concerns about the restrictions, calling them “outlandish.”

“You are not a thousand feet from anywhere. A school, a daycare. It sounds ridiculous to me. It sounds like you are trying to run us clear to the other side of town, which by the way, puts us in Oklahoma City. I would think the city of Yukon would want that revenue,” Burris said.

She said that while she opposes the recreational use of marijuana, she favors medical marijuana after seeing how the medication benefitted her sons, both of whom are war veterans.

Meanwhile, Mike Green, a city employee who plans to open a CBD store on Main Street, urged the council to not add restrictions that would keep him or other business owners, from helping those who need medicinal marijuana.

“I’ve worked hard and put in a lot of time, effort and money into opening my business. There was never a doubt that I wanted my business in Yukon. This is my community,” he said.

Green said he hopes to transition his business into a marijuana dispensary, but the restrictions could hinder  that.

City attorney Gary Miller said that while most of the locations for a retail store will be in the southwest area of Yukon, there are locations north of Interstate 40 where businesses can be located.

“This council thinks this is a reasonable approach. All they are trying to do is make sure there is an orderly roll out of this distance. They are not trying to stop or prohibit anybody.

“It (the law) doesn’t say that is has to be on the south side of I-40. That is not true. The majority of these retail establishments will be on the south side, but nowhere in this ordinance does it say you have to be on the south side. I can show you a half dozen places on this side of I-40 that are available,” Miller said.

He also agreed with Selby’s contention that the situation will resolve itself.

“There are not going to be 500 of these establishments go in. The market won’t bear that. A lot will not survive,” he said.

Miller said it is likely that a few will arrive in Yukon and survive, but they will be well funded and well organized.

“What the city is doing is exercising its authority for what it feels is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the public. The city has to represent everybody. Not just folks who are for, not just folks against. They’ve got to represent everybody,” Miller said.

Miller said the only restrictions will be limited to what is in the law.

“These people were talking like we were going to restrict them to where they can’t open. Well, that just not true. It’s not nearly as limited as you think it is,” he said.

Miller also said variances can be sought for those who find a location that doesn’t meet the requirements, and the ordinance can be changed and adjusted.

“Nothing is set in stone,” he said.

Yukon’s marijuana law

Yukon’s ordinance that sets restrictions for medical marijuana dispensaries was approved Tuesday and went into effect immediately.

Among the restrictions:

  • Dispensary permits will cost $600 per year and must be renewed annually;
  • Permits will not be granted to any applicant where the location is outside a commercially zoned area of Yukon;
  • Dispensary locations cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school, library or museum, a public playground, a child care center, a place of worship or religious assembly, a public park, pool or recreational facility, a juvenile or adult halfway house, correctional facility or substance abuse treatment or rehabilitation facility, a residentially zoned district or another dispensary.
  • Buildings where marijuana is to be kept and dispensed must be equipped with a ventilation system so odors are not detectible off premises;
  • Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and dispensaries must be closed on Sundays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and New Year’s Day.
  • No commercial growing facilities will be licensed in Yukon;
  • Those seeking a personal use permit, which allows the person to grow up to six plants, requires a state license along with a local permit that costs $240 per year.
  • Marijuana must be grown inside the residence and cannot be sold, traded or given to anyone else.

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