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Lexington developing new rules for location of medical marijuana businesses

The City of Lexington's Planning Commission is working on text amendments to zoning laws in preparation for medical marijuana businesses.
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The City of Lexington's Planning Commission is working on text amendments to zoning laws in preparation for medical marijuana businesses.

Lexington Director of Planning Jim Duncan says the Kentucky General Assembly may accelerate the legalization of medical marijuana, which is presently scheduled to take effect at the beginning of next year.

“We feel that we need to go ahead and get our own regulations in place before any licenses are issued by the state for medicinal cannabis. So what we have done, the Planning Commission has initiated an update to the zoning ordinance – a zoning ordinance text amendment – that will address all of the cannabis business types.”

Duncan says those include cultivators – where the plants are grown indoors – processors, producers, safety compliance facilities and dispensaries where people with state-issued cards can purchase medical marijuana. He says he won’t be surprised by public opposition to the proposed zoning changes, especially for dispensaries.

“The text amendment, as it's written right now would allow that in the neighborhood business zone, the B-1 zone, and in some instances, those are adjacent to neighborhoods. So there could be some concern from neighborhoods about that.”

Duncan says the state law about to go into effect prohibits dispensaries from being within 1,000 feet of schools and childcare centers and requires them to close by 8 p.m. He says it’s new ground for the Planning Commission, as none of it was foreseen in the city’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

“Because it has a significant land use impact, we do need to address it. But I'll tell you, I mean, and I think there will be interest in this. But medicinal cannabis is highly controlled at the state level. I think, if we were to get to the point of what is contemporarily referred to as adult use or used to be called recreational, I think that will be a different story.”

There’ll be a public hearing on the proposed text amendment May 9 and a possible council vote in June.

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John McGary is a Lexington native and Navy veteran with three decades of radio, television and newspaper experience.
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