Union aldermen approved an amendment to the city’s zoning code opening the door for medical marijuana cultivation in the city’s industrial district.

Following a public hearing Monday night, aldermen voted unanimously to approve the zoning code amendment. The change allows cultivation businesses in the I-1 general industrial district with a conditional use permit.

The amendment alters the city’s medial marijuana zoning code that was just approved by the board in May. After approving the initial code, the city decided an amendment was needed to better reflect how cultivation operations work. 

The city originally considered cultivation, where the marijuana is grown, agricultural activity and said it could be allowed in the nonurban (NU) zoning district with a conditional use permit (CUP).

After it was approved, City Administrator Russell Rost said he was informed that NU might not be the best fit. Rost said he was told that medical marijuana typically isn’t grown in fields, but instead in controlled warehouse facilities.

In order to reflect that change, Rost said it makes sense for the city to allow medical marijuana in the light industrial (I-1) zoning district with a CUP.

The city is requiring CUPs for most medical marijuana operations. Rost said when researching medical marijuana zoning, he found the CUPs allow the city to have 

Current Zoning

There are four potential operations, which include cultivation where the product is grown, infusion operations where the marijuana is infused into products, dispensaries where the medical marijuana is sold and labs where the marijuana is tested.

Cultivation is  now allowed in NU with a CUP and I-1 with a CUP after Monday’s change. 

The marijuana-infused product facilities, places where the grown product is transferred and put in various other products, are being considered manufacturing by the city. The plan board suggested this operation should be allowed in the light industrial (I-1) zoning district with a CUP. The CUP could be used to restrict odor and hours.

For dispensaries, the city wants to treat them like pharmacies. Dispensaries are where the marijuana is sold to consumers who have state-approved medical cards.

The city is allowing dispensaries in the highway business district (B-2) without a CUP and in the downtown business district (B-1) with a CUP.

The final zoning district is the medical testing facilities. It is allowed in the I-1 with a CUP as well.

Applications

There have been 21 total license requests in Franklin County, including 14 applications filed for growing marijuana, six for manufacturing of infused products and one dispensary.

The information obtained last by The Missourian located the businesses by ZIP code, not specific addresses. That means an application filed for 63084 may not be in the city limits of Union. 

Among the applications in Franklin County is one filed by Pharma Tech Industries, Union, which is looking to operate a manufacturing facility in Union. The name on the application is Edward T. Noland Jr.

Union-based All Natural Wellness LLC seeks to open one cultivation and one manufacturing facility in Sullivan, and a dispensary in Rolla, Phelps County. Charles A. Hurth III, an attorney in Union, prefiled the applications for All Natural Wellness.

It costs $10,000 to prefile an application to open a cultivation facility in Missouri. After the prefiling deadline ends in December 2021, the cost to file an application for a cultivation facility is $5,000.

In addition there is an annual fee of $25,000 for a cultivation facility. The cost to file a renewal application is $5,000.

Facility licenses and certifications are valid for three years, according to DHSS.

To prefile for dispensary and manufacturing facilities, the fee is $6,000, with an annual fee of $10,000 and a renewal fee of $3,000. The fee to file an application after December 2021 is $3,000.

Revenue generated through licensing fees are earmarked for a new fund for veteran health care. According to DHSS, it is expected that $20 million annually would be collected through the fees.

Statewide, there has been a total of 543 prefiled application forms and fees totaling $3.9 million received by DHSS.

According to the DHSS, those numbers could change when the facility application process begins Aug. 3.

On June 28, the state began accepting applications for medical marijuana patients. The application can be found at the DHSS website.

Because the official application process for facilities does not begin until August, there is no guarantee these numbers, including the 22 proposed facilities in Franklin County, will be representative of where actual proposed facilities will be positioned, DHSS officials said.

Medicinal marijuana was legalized in November 2018 through a constitutional amendment approved by voters, with restrictions.

The state is required by the law to approve at least 60 commercial growers, 86 facilities that manufacture marijuana-infused products and 192 dispensary licenses, 24 dispensaries for each of the state’s congressional districts.