Planning Commission approves zoning code updates for marijuana facilities


By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The St. Louis County Planning Commission unanimously recommended amendments to the county zoning ordinance pertaining to marijuana facility regulations ahead of the start of recreational sales next month at the commission’s Jan. 9 executive meeting.

In November, voters statewide approved a constitutional amendment to the Missouri Constitution legalizing adult-use marijuana. As a result, the county zoning ordinance must be amended to reflect all marijuana facility types, including adding new definitions for transportation facilities, consumption facilities and microbusinesses as they relate to recreational use.

The current zoning code, which only addresses medical marijuana facilities, permits dispensaries in the C-2 and C-3 districts, testing facilities in the C-6 and M-1 and M-2 industrial districts, and infused manufacturing and cultivation facilities in the M-1 and M-2 districts.

Microbusinesses are a new type of recognized facility which previously did not exist under medical use. There are two types of micro-facilities: microbusiness dispensaries, which operate similar to larger dispensary facilities but on a smaller scale, and microbusiness wholesale facilities that cultivate, process, package, manufacture, and deliver and sell marijuana products to microbusiness dispensaries.

Planning staff expressed concerns about the potential clustering of marijuana facilities and recommended a 500-foot buffer between existing marijuana facilities and package liquor stores, and a 1,000-foot buffer between childcare centers, schools or places of worship. The existing zoning code requires the 1,000-foot buffer already, the maximum allowed by the state.

The planning staff’s recommendations also included adopting a definition for marijuana consumption facilities. A consumption facility, as defined by the state, is a designated place where marijuana-infused products can be consumed, including in the preparation of culinary dishes or beverages by restaurants for “on-site consumption on the same day it is prepared.”

Consumption facilities would only be permitted with a conditional use permit in either the C-2 or C-3 commercial districts and M-1 and M-2 industrial districts, as long as the facilities meet the 1,000-foot buffer requirement.

“This in theory could allow for a marijuana consumption facility, which would be similar to a bar or a restaurant, where marijuana is sold and consumed on-site so we do find that this use could be appropriate in our commercial corridors,” Planning Manager Melissa Wilson said. “We think it would be best if it was conditional to allow this commission a little bit of extra scrutiny to ensure that these uses are being cited appropriately.”

Infused product manufacturing facilities and microbusiness wholesale facilities, which would be permitted uses in the M-1 and M-2 districts in the updated code, would also be allowed conditionally in NU non-urban districts and KP Karst Preservation districts with a conditional use permit. Dispensaries could also be allowed within less than 500-feet of another only with a conditional use permit.

The Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend the zoning code changes.