Budding Business Venture: Aldermen pass ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2022

BROOKHAVEN —The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen voted to approve an ordinance giving structure to medical marijuana businesses in the city Tuesday night at their regular scheduled meeting. The ordinance is based on the statute set by the state legislature. 

While cultivators and processors are covered by the ordinance, aldermen were more concerned with dispensaries and the rules regulating them. They needed to set the hours they can operate, where they can operate and the fees they needed to pay to the city. City Attorney Bobby Moak urged the aldermen to act. 

“We are within the time period when people are applying to the state on July 1st for dispensaries etcetera.,”  Moak said. “It will be better to be safe than sorry. We need y’all to pass something tonight.” 

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Aldermen voted unanimously to set the hour of operation for dispensaries to be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Hours of operation can be set by the dispensary owners but must be within that time frame. 

Dispensaries must be located in commercial zones on US84, Mississippi 51 or Brookway Boulevard. They may not be within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility or church property line, measured from the front door of the dispensary. Dispensaries may not be within 1,500 feet of each other either. Additionally, they can not have a drive through, curbside pickup or delivery service. 

During the discussion, Moak noted there could already be a legal question regarding the Lincoln County Baptist Association Office. It falls between 900 feet to 1,000 feet of a prospective dispensary location. Mississippi’s statute did not define churches like it did schools, he said. 

“Is it a church or not? Church is defined as a meeting place of regular congregants and used for the purpose of worship by the IRS. The statute just says church,” Moak said. “Use your due diligence.” 

Aldermen also set a fee schedule for non-refundable licenses at 25% of what a business pays the state to operate annually. For example, dispensaries in Mississippi must pay $2,500 to operate annually so their license would be $625 in Brookhaven annually. 

Moak had originally presented to the board a fee of 10 percent as a reference point. Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Henning said “It’s not going to hurt my feelings at all if we bump this up to 20 percent.”  Ward 6 Alderman Andre D. Spiller suggested 25% and they passed the fee schedule. 

The ordinance allows for a medical cannabis dispensary, a research facility, testing facility, disposal entities, transporters, processors, micro-processors, cultivators and micro-cultivators.