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Richland supervisors pass medical marijuana zoning ordinance |

Richland supervisors pass medical marijuana zoning ordinance

Marijuana plants on display at a medical marijuana provider in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
Marijuana plants on display at a medical marijuana provider in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

Richland supervisors have passed a law to regulate where medical marijuana dispensaries and growers can operate in the township.

The five-member board voted unanimously May 17 to restrict dispensaries and growers, respectively, to the Community Commercial and Restricted Light Industrial zoning districts.

“Now that the state has approved medical marijuana and dispensing of it, you want to be able to tell people where they’re allowed to do it,” said Supervisor John Marshall.

Pennsylvania passed its “Medical Marijuana Act,” — or Act 16 — in April 2016.

Richland has not received any applications for dispensaries or growing facilities, and Marshall said none are anticipated in the near future.

“The board thought it was best to be proactive by identifying these districts if an applicant does come forward in the future,” said Township Manager Dean Bastianini.

Bastianini said the township solicitor recommended the move.

The Community Commercial district is the “broadest” commercial district, Bastianini said.

“It’s the place where pharmacies such as Rite Aid and CVS are permitted uses as well,” he said.

According to state’s law, medical marijuana growing and processing must be conducted “in an indoor, enclosed, and secured facility.”

Marshall said the township has four Restricted Light Industrial districts where growers and processing facilities will be permitted — along a portion of Route 8, North Pioneer Road, Executive Drive, and near the intersection of State and Middlesex roads

The zoning amendment also specifies a 1,000-foot buffer zone between a marijuana dispensary and “the property line of a public, private or parochial school or day-care center.”

The new law also requires parking and loading area restrictions. Marshall said all businesses face similar land-use specifications.

“We’re not interested in fighting in court, so it’s important that we’re prepared,” said board Vice President George Allen. “We don’t want a marijuana store just plopping down anywhere.”

Supervisor Barton Miller said he opposes recrational marijuana, but sees why people might use it medically.

“I battled cancer 17 years ago,” Miller said. “I was really sick with the disease and the chemo made it worse, so would I have asked my doctor about [medical marijuana]? I don’t know because it wasn’t available, but I can see where somebody would be looking for relief.”

Ashley Murray is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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