Cedar council approves cannabis production, distribution zoning ordinance

Cedar City Council members discuss the proposed zoning ordinance regulating cannabis pharmacies and production, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 29, 2020 | Photo By Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Council approved an ordinance Wednesday regulating the allowable zones for the production, processing and distribution of cannabis in the city.

The council first discussed the ordinance during the Jan. 22 council meeting.

Following the legalization of the medical use of cannabis in Utah, Cedar City Attorney Tyler Romeril said at the Jan. 22 council meeting he felt it would be wise to address the city’s ordinances before complications occur.

“The city’s had multiple companies come forward and ask, ‘Hey where can we put a place where we can grow and manufacture this?’” he said. “So in order to get ahead of this before we have too many people obtain licenses, we thought it’d be wise just to put this in our zoning ordinances so staff had clear direction to provide.”

Romeril said that the distribution of medical cannabis is currently regulated on a permit-basis, and state law outlines regulations for where production, manufacturing and distribution can take place.

“For the cannabis production establishment, which would be both the growing and the processing, it can’t be within 1,000 feet of a community location … like a public library, a playground, a private school, preschool or church,” he said. “The other caveat is it can’t be within 600 feet of a district that the municipality has primarily zoned as residential.”

He explained that the city’s R-1, R-2 and R-3 zones are already identified as primarily residential, and city staff recommended designating the mixed-use zone as primarily residential as well.

Additionally, city staff felt it would be appropriate to allow a production establishment only in I&M-2 (industrial and manufacturing) zones, with cannabis pharmacies in the same zones pharmacies are currently permitted in, which excludes I&M-2 zones.

Romeril acknowledged that the Planning Commission was okay with having production and pharmacies in the same zone.

“Planning Commission felt comfortable having (pharmacies) in the I&M-2,” he said. “Staff’s only concern, really, was preserving land that we have for this high industrial uses. … We didn’t feel like the description of the zone really fit. Planning Commission felt different, and we respect that. We really don’t have strong opposition either way; those were just our initial concerns.”

The council asked for clarification of the law and whether already established pharmacies would be able to distribute cannabis products. City Manager Paul Bittmenn explained those pharmacies would still have to meet state regulations in order to sell cannabis products.

Councilman Tyler Melling said his concern was related to allowing cannabis pharmacies in zones where traditional pharmacies are not.

“While I understand the simplicity and the economies of scale in this particular case of having the production and the sales at the same point, I also don’t think we should be giving special treatment,” he said. “So I’d ask (Romeril) if perhaps we could, if we are going to allow cannabis pharmacies in I&M-2, to also allow drug stores and other pharmacies.”

Cedar City staff and council members discuss an ordinance regulating cannabis production and distribution, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 29, 2020 | Photo By Kelsey Cooke, St George News / Cedar City

During Wednesday’s action council meeting, Councilwoman Terri Hartley suggested requiring that cannabis pharmacies in an I&M-2 zone are attached to the production establishment in some way, and Councilman Scott Phillips supported the idea. Both council members agreed that requiring the pharmacy to be on the same parcel of land as a production establishment would be acceptable as well.

Melling reiterated his suggestion that noncannabis pharmacies also have the option of being located in an I&M-2.

“I think regular noncannabis pharmacies should be able to do this as well,” Melling said. “If there is another use by the same entity that is well-suited for an I&M-2 then you may have a pharmacy in conjunction with that facility.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance with the following regulations: Cannabis pharmacies will be permitted in zones designated as mixed-use, central commercial, downtown commercial, highway services and I&M-1; cannabis production establishments will only be permitted in I&M-2 zones; and in those I&M-2 zones, cannabis pharmacies would be permitted on the same parcel of land as a cannabis production establishment. Melling’s request to include noncannabis pharmacies in I&M-2 zones was not added to the ordinance.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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