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Pot in the city


The City of Purcell now has its own medical marijuana ordinance setting out the requirements and restrictions for retail establishments, as well as commercial growing, wholesale and storage facilities.

The city council unanimously approved the ordinance at Monday’s meeting, but only after expressing some doubt if it is enforceable.

Mayor Ted Cox wondered why no penalties were included and questioned why someone would pay $500 to $2,500 for a permit when the city’s current maximum fine is $200.

“To me the penalty has to be more severe than the permit,” Cox said.

The police aren’t without concerns, either.

“This will be a huge learning position for everyone,” chief Kevin Williams said. “There will be a lot of case law made out of this.”

City attorney Ted Haxel conceded that, realistically, “the legal stuff will go out the front door and the illegal stuff out the back door.”

Still, Haxel pointed out, “this is better than you have now. What this gets you is a starting point and I don’t have a dog in this fight.”

What remains to be seen, however, is exactly where inside the city limits any medical marijuana facilities will be permitted.

The list of restrictions eliminates many possible locations.

Property line to property line, those businesses won’t be permitted within 1,000 feet of:

  • private or public preschool, elementary, secondary, vocational or trade school, college or university
  • library or museum
  • public playground
  • child care center
  • place of worship or religious assembly
  • public park, pool or recreation facility
  • juvenile or adult halfway house, correctional facility or substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment center
  • residentially zoned area
  • another medical marijuana or retail marijuana establishment

In addition, the eight-page ordinance sets the fees due the city. Those won’t come cheap.

The annual permit for a retail establishment will be $600 per year, which the ordinance notes is to “offset municipal expenses covering costs related to licensing, inspection, administration  and enforcement” of those establishments.

Further, the location must be zoned commercial.

Buildings where marijuana is stored or dispensed must have a ventilation/air filtration system so no odor is detectable off site.

The ordinance even sets the business’ hours – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. And the business must be closed on New Year’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The ante goes up for commercial growing  and wholesale facilities with the annual permit set at $1,500.

While the commercial growing facility may be on land zoned commercial, industrial or agricultural, any agricultural site cannot abut an area that is zoned residential.

In addition, the enclosed structure must be surrounded by a 10-foot security fence offering limited access. Gates must be locked at all times and the plants must not be visible to the public.

Wholesale facilities must be on land that is zoned commercial.

The ordinance also outlines regulations for marijuana storage facilities. The annual permit for these will be $2,500.

These facilities must have an electronic security system, as well as the 10-foot security fence.

The ordinance also takes into account individuals who may opt to grow their own medical marijuana for personal use. That annual permit will be $500.

Growing marijuana for personal medical use will be limited to the inside of a single private residence.

For rented homes, the written and notarized consent of the property owner is required.

All facilities are subject to inspections by city officials.


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