Locally Sourced Cannabis Laws: The Importance of Zoning in Cannabis Operations


‘Is it local?’ isn’t just a question about the source of a cannabis product; now it’s a question about one of the more complex and inconsistent levels of cannabis regulation, that of the local government.  Production and sale of cannabis requires federal, state, and local approval; while attention is often first given to federal or state allowances, the local regulations ultimately determine where a cannabis business may operate. Aaron Frank Local governments regulate “land uses” through zoning laws, and the production, distribution, or sale of cannabis is a land use that is increasingly identified in a local zoning ordinance. A local government may permit, prohibit, or permit land uses subject to conditions in certain zoning districts. There may be a specific procedure to obtain a zoning approval, such as approval by a governing board or planning commission, and a public hearing with opportunity for public comment is often required. The standards by which a decision is made will vary by state and often by jurisdiction. Cannabis is a relatively new land use; because it was not legal, there was no need to define and regulate it in zoning ordinances. Many local governments are undertaking the nascent process of regulating cannabis and are imposing zoning conditions by which cannabis land uses must abide by to reduce impact on surrounding properties, or to make the approval of a cannabis land use more politically palatable. Zoning conditions commonly imposed by local governments for cannabis land uses may include the following: Buffering (a distance from a school or church, for example); Density (how many cannabis businesses may operate within a certain area); Operational characteristics hours of operation and odor (for manufacturers); Storefront characteristics such as lighting, storefront display, signage. Understanding these regulations early on is key in navigating the competitive environment of opening a…

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Source : Locally Sourced Cannabis Laws: The Importance of Zoning in Cannabis Operations

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