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Conditional use permit Permit for medical pot dispensary approved by Willmar Planning Commission

WILLMAR — The Willmar Planning Commission has approved a conditional use permit for retired veterinarian Dr. Marshall Brinton of Spicer to allow a medical marijuana production lab/dispensary at laboratory facilities he owns at 208 Lakeland Dr. S.E.

The commission approved the permit after holding a public hearing last week. The commission’s action will be included the commission’s minutes, which will be part of the consent agenda at the next City Council meeting.

City Planner Megan DeSchepper said the conditional use permit is required because medical marijuana production is not listed as a land use in any section of the city zoning ordinance.

She said that whenever the city receives a request for something that hasn’t been considered or isn’t in the ordinance,a conditional use permit is required, according to DeSchepper.

The commission approved the permit with the following three conditions:

That the property owner, operator and operation shall be in full compliance with state law, along with other requirements.

That any future occupant using the building for the proposed purpose shall return to the Planning Commission for sign approvals and to verify any future parking lot layout.

That the use shall meet all other applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations at the time.

An amendment to the motion, which would have required a 7-foot-high fence topped with barbed wire to increase security, was defeated. Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development, said the Minnesota Department of Health will control security issues as part of the licensing.

Peterson said the proposed use is appropriate for the location and surrounded by property that’s already being used for commercial and industrial purposes.

Brinton told the commission that prior to his retirement he owned and operated a 15,000-square-foot veterinary vaccine facility with 6 different labs.

Brinton said he is disabled and has been unsuccessful in his attempt to sell the building because the equipment is so specialized.

Brinton said he became interested in medical marijuana production after researching the medical marijuana law passed in May by the Minnesota Legislature. Brinton said his facility has most of the equipment needed to conduct the medical marijuana extraction process. Brinton said the law might provide an opportunity for him to do something with his building.

Brinton said the 14-page law requires, among other things, that all patients or recipients of medical marijuana register annually with the state to allow a state committee to analyze the patients’ outcomes of the treatment.

He said the state will license two entities to produce the medical grade marijuana, with at least one dispensary open by July 2015 and they will also each have three additional dispensaries open around the state by July 2016.

He said each building will have exterior and interior closed-circuit television; and each building will have personalized key cards to unlock the entrance to keep a log of who is in the building and when they are in the building.

Each dispensary will be staffed by a licensed pharmacist and all potential employees will be subject to a thorough background check and cannot be employed if previously convicted of a felony. Patients or their designated caregivers must personally pick up the prescription on a monthly basis.

Brinton said his location has parking for employees and patients and is handicap accessible.

Brinton said that just because the city would grant the conditional use permit doesn’t say the project will happen. Brinton said he would have to apply for the state license, which costs $20,000.

Because he’s disabled, Brinton said he would contact a reputable company that’s already making medical marijuana and explore a possible business relationship with them where they could use his building and equipment. Brinton said if the city rejects the permit, he will not pursue the proposal.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150