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Delta City Council irons out licensing requirements for medical marijuana

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In the spirit of cooperation, both sides of a divided city council gave a little to finalize the licensing requirements for medical marijuana establishments in the City of Delta.

In November, a majority of the electorate voted to authorize the sale, manufacture, research and development, testing and cultivation of medical marijuana in the city.

After the election, council enacted a moratorium to allow time to work out licensing and zoning regulations. Zoning regulations passed unanimously, but the most recent vote on licensing requirements ended in a 2-2 tie.

With all five council members present on Feb. 5, a vote of 4-1 culminated months of debate among council members and concerned citizens. The "nay" vote was cast by Mayor Ron Austin, who has expressed concerns about the frequency with which individuals are able to make purchases. Until legislators eliminate "looping," Austin said he could not, in good conscience, vote in favor of the licensing ordinance.

The ordinance caps at two the number of medical marijuana centers, infused products manufacturing facilities and medical marijuana optional premises cultivation facilities allowed. There is no limit on the number of medical marijuana testing facilities in the city.

Anticipating more than two applicants, the ordinance outlines a lottery process for selecting the licensees from the slate of qualified applicants. In addition to the cap on facilities, council agreed to limit the type of medical marijuana centers allowed to operate in the city. State regulations outline three types of medical marijuana centers, based on the number of patients. The City of Delta will only allow Type 1 centers, the smallest, with 1 to 300 patients.

Unless council acts to lift the moratorium, it remains in effect until May 13.

Before any license is granted, a public hearing will be conducted by Delta City Council. Council can either deny the application or approve the application with or without conditions.

Fees are outlined in the ordinance as follows: new license application fee, $5,000; license renewal application fee, $3,500; transfer of location application fee, $3,500; transfer of ownership application fee, $3,500; and annual license fee, $5,000.

The applicant must also meet all state requirements for fees and licensing.

City council previously adopted the zoning regulations that apply to medical marijuana establishments. None can be located in the downtown core area, or within 1,000 feet of any school, state licensed day care facility, park, or law enforcement or court facility.

A map indicating the 1,000-foot setbacks has been posted on the city website, www.cityofdelta.org. The full text of the licensing ordinance is published in this week's DCI.

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