A vacant Arvest Bank in Forsyth will be unable to become a medical marijuana dispensary following a decision made by Forsyth Board of Aldermen at their July 15 meeting.
The aldermen voted not to change a distance requirement, thereby blocking the dispensary from opening in it’s proposed location within 1,000 feet of a day care facility.
At a June Forsyth Alderman meeting, Forsyth Police Chief Roger Ellis made the board aware that an outlet is looking to purchase the old Arvest Bank location at the intersection of U.S. 160 and Shadowrock Drive to turn it into a medical marijuana dispensary.
This outlet, which was not named by Ellis, has applied with the state of Missouri to receive its license to sell medical marijuana in the state. The state requires any medical marijuana dispensary to be 1,000 feet from the front doors of any school, day care or place where children are, according to Ellis.
As the Busy Bear Day Care in Forsyth is located just across the street and less than 1,000 feet away from the former Arvest Bank location, a marijuana dispensary would need Forsyth Aldermen to wave the distance requirement in order to set up shop there.
At the July 15 meeting, aldermen welcomed New Approach Missouri Board Member Chip Sheppard to speak and offer insight into the medical marijuana situation in Missouri, as he was one of the people who worked on the Missouri medial marijuana ballot issue that passed.
Sheppard said a total of 24 dispensaries will call the Missouri 7th District home, with between five to 10 of those going into Springfield.
“Everybody that wants to get a license to have a dispensary has to have it scored against all the competition,” said Sheppard. “There will probably be four or five hundred people competing for these dispensary licenses and each of those applications is costing these people – they have to hire consultants, attorneys, CPAs – so it’s costing each of these teams anywhere from $150,000 to $100,000 a piece to just apply. So it’s very expensive to even apply.
“So they’ve got to have it all very well thought out or they wont get a license.”
The Department of Health and Senior Services will have a total of 337 total license facilities statewide, which includes 60 growers, 85 manufacturing and 192 dispensaries.
The Department of Health also requires a lot of information about the facility license holders plan to set up in, according to Sheppard.
“They require schematics and drawings of your facility. They require everybody to attest that no one that’s in the ownership or management or officers has any sort of disqualifying felonies. They require criminal background checks through the Missouri Highway Patrol and fingerprinting for everybody that’s going to be involved. They require two camera’s on every point of entry and exit. Fifteen frames per second, kept for 45 days. There’s a ton of regulations like that.”
Sheppard added that the department is also going to have between 30 to 40 inspectors, which breaks down to each inspector being in charge of around 10 licenses.
He said the amount of crime around a dispensary also goes down due to the amount of cameras.
“You’ve got to have these high-resolution cameras aimed away from the facility. You’ve got to have extra lighting. So you end up with less crime around a facility, because 15 frames a second is a really high-quality resolution,” he said. “So you can actually see someone’s face really well.
“You can read license plates with 15 frames a second.”
Busy Bear Day Care Owner Donna Blair was also in attendance at Monday’s meeting and addressed the aldermen with the reasons why she doesn’t want them to wave the 1,000-foot distance requirement.
“My point is 20 years ago my daughter and I, who was a student at Drury College, set out to have a daycare in Forsyth where the kids could be loved, cared for and be safe. My whole point is the safety. It’s not about money,” said Blair. “If one child in my daycare got hurt, I could never live because I would feel like I hadn’t stood up tonight. If I didn’t stand up tonight, I couldn’t live with myself.”
Sheppard also made it a point during the meeting to assure and remind everyone in attendance that no one has ever died due to an overdose of marijuana. He also explained that medical marijuana purchased at a dispensary can only be used once the purchaser is inside their own residence and cannot be used or opened in public.
During her address, Blair also presented a list of people’s names, five pages long, who she said not only don’t want marijuana anywhere near her day care, but in Taney County at all.
“I think that the people here tonight are letting you guys know, we’re the Bible Belt. We believe in keeping our children safe,” said Blair.
“My belief is, don’t be next to my day care. If someone else wants to use the medical marijuana, that’s between them and the Lord or them and their doctor. I care about my kids. I care about my location. That’s what I care about. I just say, think about the kids, not about the money.”
Following an hour of statements and questions between aldermen, Sheppard, Blair and other meeting attendees, Ward I Alderman Jack Baker brought a close to the discussion.
“I’m not against medical marijuana, but I am against changing the 1,000 feet,” Baker said. “The state says 1,000 feet, so I would make a motion that we would support the 1,000-foot restriction.”
Forsyth Ward 2 Alderman Cheryl Altis seconded the motion and it was passed unanimously by the board.