Medical Cannabis Act leads to proposed changes to city land development code

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2022

With the due date to opt out of the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act program passed, the Oxford Planning Commission faced proposed changes to the city’s Land Development Code on Monday evening.

While the Mississippi State Department of Health, state Department of Revenue and Alcohol Beverage Control are slowly rolling their regulations out for the MMCA, local municipalities are ironing out the details and changes.

“It’s certainly one of the more interesting items we’ve had before the commission,” said Ben Requet, Director of Planning.

The MMCA would introduce the creation of a Medical Cannabis Establishment Use and new definitions for Medical Cannabis to Oxford.

Any business associated with the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act— meaning a cannabis cultivation facility, cannabis processing facility, cannabis testing facility, cannabis dispensary, cannabis transportation entity, cannabis disposal entity or cannabis research facility licensed and registered by the appropriate agency— will fall under the criteria restricting them to particular zones/districts, locations and regulations.

Cannabis cultivation facilities are allowed by Special Use in Industrial District and Special Exception in Traditional Neighborhood Business (TNB), Suburban Corridor (SCO), Suburban Center (SCN), Urban Corridor (UCO), and Urban Center (UCN) areas. Cannabis dispensaries are allowed by Special Use in TNB, SCO, SCN, UCO, UCN, and IND. Cannabis disposal entities are allowed by Special Exception in SCO, SCN, and IND.

Cannabis processing facilities are allowed by Special Use in IND and Special Exception in TNB, SCO, SCN, UCO, and UCN. Cannabis research facilities are allowed by Special Use in SCO, SCN, UCO, UCN and IND and Special Exception in TNB. Cannabis testing facilities are allowed by Special Use in IND and Special Exception in TNB, SCO, SCN, UCO, and UCN.

Lastly, Cannabis transportation facilities are allowed by Special Use in IND and Special Exception in TNB, SCO, SCN, UCO, and UCN.

Marijuana dispensaries are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a church, school, or daycare or within 1,500 feet of another dispensary. Additionally, many sites cannot dispose of cannabis bi-product outside of the facilities. According to Requet, this is to prevent the odor of the product from spreading.

If adopted, the city will have to come up with an odor prevention plan. Requet said he has spoken to other communities with marijuana facilities outside of Mississippi and they have said that ventilation is key.

“Everything that I hear from them is that ventilation is critically important to all of these businesses and so from a business plan, they are taking a look at this as well,” he said. “There isn’t — so far that I’ve come across— any set standards as to what specifically ought to be required and I think that’s something that we’re going to learn as we go through this.”

The director said it will be fully vetted before any facilities are approved.

After reviewing the proposed changes, the Planning Commission recommended the proposed changes to the Oxford Board of Aldermen with unanimous approval.