Greater local control: Marijuana Businesses

Oklahoma’s cities and towns would have greater control over what marijuana businesses are allowed within their municipal limits thanks to legislation approved Wednesday in the Senate.

Senate Bill 801, by Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, would allow municipalities to modify their standard planning and zoning procedures to determine or forbid certain zones or districts for the operation of new marijuana-licensed premises, medical marijuana businesses, or any other premises where marijuana or its by-products are cultivated, processed, stored, or manufactured starting Nov. 1, 2023.

“This measure will give back local control to municipalities. After State Question 788 passed, there was language that kind of muddied the waters as to what municipalities could or couldn’t do,” Coleman explained. “Senate Bill 801 clearly states that a city may zone for grow operations or dispensaries within their city limits as authorized by their city council. This grandfathers in any existing businesses but will permit communities in the future to zone for grows and dispensaries, if they choose to do so.”

SB 801 states that any marijuana business licensed prior to Nov. 1, 2023, will be able to continue operation until they are no longer licensed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.

“While this industry was widely approved by voters in 2018, we know there have been unintended consequences. Municipalities have realized there are issues that can best be addressed through zoning of these businesses,” Coleman said. “A fire in downtown Tonkawa in January that led to nearby businesses and residents having to evacuate is just one of many examples of issues municipalities must consider. Zoning will allow them to choose areas that are suitable and safe for these types of businesses and the rest of the community.”

The bill will next go to the House where Rep. T.J. Marti, R-Broken Arrow, is the principal House author.

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