Phila to state: Limits on medical marijuana dispensaries near schools are too strict

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City Councilman Derek Green (left), shaking hands with Mayor Kenney, introduced the legislation aimed at "balancing access and respecting the desire to remove dispensaries from locations frequented by children."

City officials may ask the state to relax restrictions on how close medical marijuana dispensaries can be to schools and day care facilities, saying the current rules would limit access in Philadelphia.

"Our density of schools and day cares is already so high, it would be making locations very challenging to find," Paula Brumbelow, a senior planner with the city, told a committee of City Council Wednesday.

The committee was considering local zoning restrictions ahead of the launch of medical marijuana, which was approved by Gov. Wolf in April and is expected to launch in fall 2017, at the earliest.

Planning commission staff said Wednesday they expect four dispensaries to open in the city and four growing operations to open in the Philadelphia region. If a growing facility were to open in city limits, it would be restricted to industrial areas.

Dispensaries, under the state law, can't open within 1,000 feet of schools or day care centers. The city's legislation would shorten that to within 500 feet of schools and remove the restriction for day care centers.

Councilman Derek Green, who introduced the legislation, said the city legislation adds a 500-foot restriction around parks, playgrounds, libraries, pools and recreation centers with the goal of "balancing access and respecting the desire to remove dispensaries from locations frequented by children."

The legislation also has a blanket restriction on dispensaries in residential areas.

Green's legislation also initially included a restriction on dispensaries being within 500 feet of churches and hotels. Brumbelow said those rules were removed after city planners realized they would exclude much of Center City.

The Philadelphia-specific regulations would only be enforced if the state grants waivers approving the dispensary and growing sites.

Council could vote on the regulations as soon as Dec. 8.

tnadolny@phillynews.com

215-854-2730

@TriciaNadolny

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