The Tulsa City Council has approved regulations on the medical marijuana industry that spell out where businesses can operate, how far apart they must be and what building standards will be required.
The ordinance received unanimous support from councilors Wednesday.
It is substantially the same as previous versions proposed by the city. However, several changes were made after the council’s Nov. 7 meeting to address concerns raised by business owners and industry officials.
Those changes include:
• Allowing processing facilities that use a nonflammable extraction process to operate in more areas than those that use combustible extraction processes
• Deleting definitions of “marijuana” and several other medical marijuana terms that were taken directly from the state Department of Health to ensure that businesses not affiliated with the medical marijuana industry, such as CDB oil merchants, would not find themselves subject to the ordinance
• Exempting dispensaries that have a license issued by the Oklahoma Department of Health prior to Dec. 1 from having to be 1,000 feet from another dispensary
Susan Miller, land development services manager for the Indian Nations Council of Governments, presented the final version of the ordinance to councilors at their Wednesday morning committee meeting.
“I think we finally came up with a solution that helped, and the people that we’ve shared this with do seem to be pleased,” she said.
Under the earlier version of the ordinance, processing facilities could have been located by right in areas zoned heavy industrial or by special exception in areas zoned medium industrial. The regulations approved Wednesday allow processing facilities that use noncombustible extraction processes to be located by right in areas zoned heavy industrial and medium industrial and by special exception in areas zoned light industrial.
“It really allows much more flexibility,” Miller said.
The city determined that the definitions of some terms could be excluded from the ordinance because the same definitions are used by the Health Department, Miller said.
“By the time they (businesses) get to the (city) permit office, they will have received a license from the state Health Department, and they will have already done that review (using) the definitions they established,” Miller said.
She told councilors that exempting dispensaries already licensed by the state from the city’s spacing requirement would send the signal to business owners that they can move forward. As of Wednesday, she added, the state had issued approximately 100 permits for dispensaries in Tulsa.
“There are a lot of people that have called and really said what the issues are and wanted assurance that before they buy property they know they are going to be allowed to do what they want to do,” she said.
The regulations approved Wednesday differ slightly depending on whether the business is a cultivation center, processing facility or dispensary. But many of the regulations apply to all three.
All medical marijuana businesses in the city, for example, must be in an enclosed building that has proper ventilation, an electronic security system and a surveillance camera. All such businesses must be licensed by the state Department of Health.
The city regulations do not address spacing requirements between dispensaries and schools because that is addressed under state law.
The state requires that dispensaries be at least 1,000 feet from the entrance of any public or private school.