Polson and Ronan pass marijuana regulations
The towns of Ronan and Polson issued ordinances for the regulation of recreational marijuana sales on Monday evening, less than two weeks before that retail sale became legal under state law on January 1.
The Polson Town Commission passed its original bylaw at second reading on Monday. Only minor changes were made to the ordinance which was passed on first reading on December 6.
Topics covered by the ordinance presented on Monday include acceptable locations for marijuana stores, licensing, transportation of the product across city limits and local advertising standards.
The latest revisions clarify that new recreational marijuana businesses must be located at least 1,000 feet from all schools, public and private, excluding home schools. The final version also adds state-approved child care centers to this list.
Polson’s order also requires these businesses to be located at least 300 linear feet from a residential zoned property within city limits. They should also be 500 feet from all churches and 500 feet from city-owned property, including parks. Shops should also be located 500 feet from each other.
Distances are measured between the entrance to the marijuana shops and the outer edge closest to the properties concerned.
City Manager Ed Meece presented a series of maps identifying exclusion zones, with a few caveats: first, that the maps only show rough estimates of the zones; and second, that the map does not show residential zoning boundaries.
“Without a functioning GIS system, we have really limited tools to show you these things,” Meece told Commissioners. “But we gave her a good shot.”
The city’s website, cityofpolson.com, has a link at the top of its home page titled “Marijuana Ordinance & Maps” which leads to copies of the ordinance and accompanying maps.
Polson currently has two medical marijuana stores within the city limits that will be eligible to continue recreational sales after the New Year. These companies will benefit from acquired rights and will not have to meet the distance requirements described in the new city ordinance.
Flathead Lake Herb is located at the corner of Highway 93 and Second Street East. Owner Cori Monatukwa said last week that he and his partner, May Becker, have no plans to continue with recreational sales. Monatukwa said they have established a loyal following and do not want to alienate their current clients.
“Many of them are retired veterans,” said Monatukwa. “We want to stay focused on the medical. “
A second medical store, Alternative ReLeaf, is located near the intersection of Highway 35 and Heritage Drive, across from Eagle Bank. Owner Barbie Turner spoke at Monday’s meeting and said she intends to continue recreational sales. She praised city staff for doing “meticulous” work to prepare the ordinance. It asked the Commission to consider reducing the cost of an annual commercial license from the proposed charge of $ 1,500.
Turner said she has a production plant outside of town but could provide Polson with 10 jobs.
“$ 1,500 per year seems excessive for license fees,” she said. “We work in a small space in Libby and we would like to outsource this work to Polson. “
She suggested the high fees might deter her from doing so.
As the order was in its second reading, the commissioners refused to lower the fees on the spot, but noted that adjustments could be made in the future.
The ordinance was passed 5-0 with Commissioners Tony Isbell and Jan Howlett absent.
Meece said a second ordinance stating that production facilities should only be located in industrial areas was in the works. He said companies with separate retail and production facilities will need separate licenses. However, a combination installation in an industrial area would only need one.
Meanwhile, around the same time, Ronan City Council passed an emergency ordinance describing many of the same issues. A copy of the ordinance was not available on Tuesday, but Mayor Kim Aipperspach confirmed that the ordinance was passed unanimously on Monday evening.
Aipperspach said Ronan will offer two types of licenses: retail and wholesale. He said that one of each permit will be available for 1,000 residents of the city, adding that the latest census lists a population of around 2,200 for Ronan.
Aipperspach said Ronan’s ordinance, like Polson’s, also specifies the required distances from churches, schools, parks, etc.
“Anywhere you might see kids hanging out,” he said.
And like Polson, Ronan has added child care centers to his list of exclusion zones.
Also on Monday, Ronan swore in his new board members. Current Ward 2 councilor Chris Adler becomes mayor of Apipperspach after January 1. Aipperspach has been Mayor of Ronan for the past 15 years.
Newcomer Ryan Corum, who will replace Marilynn Tanner in Ward 1, will also join the board. Their election remained tied long after election night, and Tanner eventually stepped down and conceded.
New municipal judge Allysen Jones was also elected in November.
Polson will be sworn in to its new members in January.