Will cannabis be allowed in Brookhaven’s CBD? City questions medical marijuana zoning in central business district
Published 12:57 pm Thursday, April 7, 2022
Brookhaven leaders want to know if medical marijuana dispensaries could be located in the central business district.
Could someone buy medical marijuana in downtown Brookhaven? Maybe — the answer is not yet clear.
Medical marijuana is legal in the City of Brookhaven — it’s just not here yet.
The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law Feb. 2, 2022, by Gov. Tate Reeves. The bill was sent to the governor with overwhelming support of state legislators and individual voters, making Mississippi the 37th state to legalize use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The law made medical marijuana legal statewide. Every local government — city or county — was then given the freedom to opt out. Lincoln County’s Board of Supervisors did just that, voting 4-1 to not allow production or dispensaries in the county. The City of Brookhaven does not fall under that decision, however.
The seven-member Board of Aldermen can either take an official vote to support the MMC Act, though it is unnecessary, or simply do nothing and the Act will automatically take effect. Alternatively, the Board may vote to opt out of allowing local medical marijuana, but must do so prior to the deadline for opting out — Monday, May 2.
Medical marijuana is not CBD that can be purchased at a convenience store. It is also not marijuana that can be smoked, as many people commonly think of marijuana. No one can “get high” using medical marijuana as prescribed.
It is, however, strictly regulated. While many regulations won’t be decided until June, many local governments, prospective patients and entrepreneurs are busy trying to work out as many details as possible.
One question brought to city leaders is whether a medical marijuana dispensary could be located in downtown Brookhaven, considered the central business district.
“You can’t just zone it out of an area,” said City Attorney Bobby Moak. “The statute says a dispensary must be located in a commercial area. But the statute also gives boards the opportunity to zone it as they see fit.”
The vagueness of the wording is expected to be refined as rules and regulations are published in June, but the City would rather have a definitive answer sooner.
“The City of Southaven has requested an Attorney General’s opinion on the matter, and we are joining in on that request,” Moak said.
The AG’s response could set an answer firmly in place — you can or you can’t prohibit a dispensary from being located in a certain commercial zone.
If the AG opinion does not allow more restrictions, a dispensary will still not be permitted in certain areas. It’s due to proximity regulations.
The front door of a dispensary cannot be closer than 1,000 feet to the nearest property line of a church, school or daycare. Also, two dispensaries cannot be located closer than 1,500 feet from each other.
“So you’re going to have some real limitations,” Moak said.
No matter the answers, if the City does not opt out, the Planning and Development District and Zoning Board will map out for the city and prospective business owners exactly where a dispensary may be legally located.
All this takes time, so in a “best case” scenario, it may still be 2023 before a dispensary is open in the area.
For more information on deadlines and details, read “What is medical marijuana and when will it be available in Mississippi?”