County Eyeing Liquor-Style Licensure For Dispensaries

Yankton County officials are closer to crafting a policy for medical marijuana dispensary licenses.

During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Yankton County Commission held a discussion on the path forward for marijuana policy within the county.

Chairperson Cheri Loest said that recent communication with county advocacy groups shows there’s some urgency to come up with a plan sooner rather than later.

“They are forecasting the state will be ready to go before October 29,” she said. “They are forecasting around October 4. That’s a lot quicker. If we are amending our zoning ordinance, we are going to have to have a special meeting.”

She added there are very few reasons why the county would need to change the zoning ordinance.

“The only reason we’d need to change our zoning … is if we want to limit locations in the county,” she said. “Otherwise they have the licensing which essentially covers the number, the fee, hours of operation and your zoning ordinance if you’re choosing to limit locations.”

A change in the zoning ordinance, as demonstrated with the recently enacted Article 5 changes, is an involved process that involves multiple meetings and involvement of the Yankton County Planning Commission.

It’s a process that Commissioner Wanda Howey-Fox expressed little desire to pursue for this issue.

“I think we should just do them like liquor licenses and not change the zoning,” she said. “That’s going to be a nightmare. … I think that the state’s going to have a lot of conditions and I think that, if the folks want to get into the dispensary business, they’re going to live or die and it’s going to be pretty quick.”

Other commissioners were in agreeance that it would be best not to touch the zoning ordinance for the time being.

Development Services Director Gary Vetter said he believes that this would be a wise direction as well.

“With all of the security, restrictions and everything else, it’s going to be pretty limited,” he said. “I think we’re fine moving forward with a liquor license-type application.”

Loest said it was suggested to go with a $5,000 licensing fee.

Commissioner Dan Klimisch said he isn’t expecting dispensaries to apply for locations that wouldn’t benefit them.

“It’s a highly competitive business and they’re going to survive on the main highways, probably by the lake and maybe a few other locations,” he said. “I think this is a case where the free market will take care of that.”

Loest also polled the commission on the number of licenses, with most commissioners saying a limit of 10 would be a fair number.

By contrast, the Yankton City Commission passed an ordinance earlier this summer allowing for only two permits in the city limits for the time being.

Commissioner Joseph Healy said that with the process being what it is to get a dispensary license and the investment needed, applicants will be serious.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of people fly-by-night wanting to come in and start a dispensary — medical or recreational — because I don’t think there’s a lot of fly-by-nights that have $5,000 (to give) to the county, plus what the state gets.”

Loest asked that a draft ordinance be ready for the August 17 meeting of the commission, otherwise no formal action was taken on the matter Tuesday evening.

In other business Tuesday, the county:

• Heard and approved several county department quarterly updates.

• Approved two conditional-use applications.

• Approved a proclamation to designate Yankton County a Purple Heart County.

Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.

(1) comment

Livefree

[thumbdown][thumbdown] why are you attempting to penalize a medical patient and we already know who’s opening these they already own the bars. Y’all are living in a cave check out the other state’s they don’t have local 5000 dollar applications boo on you money grubbing politicians

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