Now that Rolla’s City Council has passed its ordinance amending Rolla City Code to reinforce the city’s regulation of future medical marijuana facilities, the city council is now turning their attention to bringing a medical marijuana cultivation facility to Rolla, which involves waiting for the Department of Health and Senior Services to announce what businesses the state will license.

The city council adopted Ordinance No.4488 regulating future medical marijuana facilities, with the city council’s discussion centered on the zoning of medical marijuana dispensaries. The location of dispensaries in the city continued to be at the forefront of council discussion when the city was confronted with the state's enactment of an emergency rule defining the method for municipalities to use when measuring distance in their local ordinances regulating the zoning of medical marijuana facilities.

The state’s definition called for municipalities to measure along the shortest path between demarcation points that can be lawfully traveled by foot, and opened up parts of downtown Rolla for future facility locations. The city responded by  amending Section 4-16 of Rolla’s general ordinances to define the method of measurement consistent with the city’s liquor license measurement standard, determined by the nearest building corner of the liquor license applicant to the nearest building corner of any school, church or regular place of worship as measured in a straight line.

Now the city has reached a memorandum of understanding with a company based out of Denver, City Administrator John Butz says, seeing as when the city adopted its ordinance, there were additional provisions for granting licenses with the appropriate zoning classifications for medical marijuana infused product facilities, cultivation facilities and testing facilities.

“We actually said cultivation and infused products are something we’d rather see in the manufacturing zones,” Butz said. He added that a company out of Denver has now approached the city, seeking to open a medical marijuana cultivation facility within the city’s limits. 

The company is interested in a portion of a 102-acre tract the city purchased for $600,000 in 2005. The city purchased the land to build a new public works facility off McCutchen Drive north of the city’s recycling center, Butz said. The city used 40 acres of the property for public works and environmental services, yet the remaining 60 acres from the east end of Twitty Drive to the west end of the old Cantex facility was subdivided and platted as Rolla Industrial Park West. 

The undeveloped industrial park was zoned M-2 heavy manufacturing and has been marketed by the city and Rolla Regional Economic Committee for $30,000 per acre. The city was contacted in late July by an agent inquiring about the sale of 14-acres of the industrial park, after looking initially at Rolla National Airport, Butz said. 

The city doesn't provide utilities and security in Maries County where Rolla National Airport is located, so the city explored selling land inside the city’s limits where Rolla Municipal Utilities would provide utilities, while the city would have public safety services and taxes remain local. 

“This is a cultivation facility that is interested in 10-to-15 acres so we have reached a memorandum of understanding that if they receive a state license then we would sell the property at our value at about $30,000 per acre and that would allow us to begin building out the infrastructure in that area,” Butz said. 

The company is estimating anywhere between 20 to 40 employees if the DHSS grants them a cultivation facility license, which “pulls all of that property tax benefiting our school district and provides employment,” Butz said. 

Now the city is waiting on the DHSS, which has until Dec. 31 to determine the applicants that will be approved. On Tuesday the department said they received 2,163 applications for medical marijuana facilities with 554 applications from individuals wanting to operate one of the merely 60 cultivation facilities the state plans to license.

The majority of applicants – 1,163 – are in pursuit of operating medical marijuana dispensaries, while the state received 415 manufacturing facility applications, 17 testing facility applications and 14 transportation facility applications.

The DHSS said that after the facility application deadline, the department received claims from facility applicants saying they experienced technical difficulties during the application process, and were unable to submit their applications. The DHSS reviewed each claim as a waiver of the facility application deadline with 20 requests for waivers denied.

The state granted 109 waivers allowing the affected applicants to be submitted. Now the DHSS says applicant names and facility locations will be released in the coming weeks.

The DHSS is required by law to license a minimum of 60 cultivation facilities, 192 dispensaries, 86 medical marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities and 10 testing laboratory facilities throughout the state.

“How this all gets flushed out, the state of Missouri is ultimately going to oversee it; we are just going to treat it like we would any other business or manufacture looking at locating in Rolla,” Butz said.