Municipalities and Mary Jane
Nationwide, community development departments have been dealing with a new industry that has never before been regulated by zoning or building codes. Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in four states and medicinal use in 19 states. While federal laws governing marijuana need to be considered and accounted for, President Obama has made it clear that the current administration will respect states’ rights and not interfere with marijuana stores or users in states where it has been legalized.[i] Most state laws and requirements address issues of criminal justice and monitoring of use. Codes and rules governing land use and construction of facilities for this new industry have largely been left to the authority of local municipalities in the states where recreational and medicinal marijuana has been legalized. In other words, the city of Denver ordinances only apply within the City and County of Denver. Individuals should go to each city or county’s website to determine specific marijuana sale and consumption laws.[ii]
Each government involved is continuously having discussions on how to regulate this industry to protect the safety of the community. These discussions range from identifying structural issues not considered in the building code, to potential impacts on land uses in zoning ordinances. SAFEbuilt has been asked to address some major issues that we have encountered in dealing with marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities. It is our goal to share some ideas through a two-part series on what communities can do to prepare and properly regulate this new industry, as well as open a conversation among community development departments on best practices.
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