QUINCY -- Ahead of next week's vote on allowing recreational marijuana to be sold in Quincy, members of the City Council heard from residents and business owners who are concerned about the city's proposed ordinance.
If approved by the council, the ordinance would allow for state licensed marijuana dispensaries to be in C2 commercial zoning and in downtown zoning districts. The dispensaries would face a number of restrictions, including not allowing anyone under the age of 21 into the store. The dispensary also must be 100-feet away from nurseries, pre-schools, primary or secondary schools, day care centers and home day cares.
The ordinance also includes language from a state statute that prohibits dispensaries from being within a dwelling unit and within 1,500 feet of another dispensary.
Under the ordinance, cannabis craft growers, cultivators, processors and transporters would be able to open their facilities in properties zoned as downtown industrial and industrial zones.
"We have limited it to the very heavy and intense zoning categories that we have in our code, which is East Broadway and in downtown," said Chuck Bevelheimer, Quincy's director of planning and development. "Dispensaries cannot go out into residential areas. That is not allowed."
Two of the speakers at Monday night's council meeting, Bob Lansing and Chris Wildrick, urged the council to revise the proposed ordinance. They want the ordinance to mirror the requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries, which prevents a dispensary from being within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or other protected buildings.
Lansing and Wildrick are the co-owners of Herbal Remedies, a state licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Quincy. They announced their intent to open a recreational marijuana dispensary near their current location and a secondary location near Fourth and Maine in downtown Quincy.
Prior to agreeing to the 100-feet setback, the Quincy Plan Commission had considered requiring a 400-foot setback.
"The Plan Commission debated this at length in their last meeting," Bevelheimer said. "Under the medical cannabis rules, the state did put in the specific rule that it must be 1,000-feet from day cares or schools. The same requirement was not made for the retail locations of recreational cannabis."
Plan Commission members agreed at their meeting last month to treat recreational medical dispensaries as a package liquor retailer.
"Since consumption is not occurring on the premises of retail cannabis stores, the planning commission felt comfortable applying the same setback the city has for alcohol, which is 100-feet from day care or schools," Bevelheimer said.
Also speaking at the meeting was Justin Crouch and Joseph Principe.
Crouch said he was concerned by the narrative being pushed by opponents of the ordinance.
"It was said last week that if we allow the sale of recreational marijuana, that our youth would be smoking pot and committing crimes," Crouch said. "The truth is that if teenagers want it, then they can already get it. Allowing a dispensary is not going to make it easier for teens to obtain it. It is already easy enough.
"The only change we will see by not allowing it is that the tax money generated by the sale of marijuana will be going to another community rather than staying in ours."
City officials have estimated a new 3% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana-related products would generate $60,000 annually in revenue for the city. Supporters of the ordinance have said the tax would generate more than $100,000 annually.