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What We Think: Make zoning changes to allow medical marijuana

The concept of medical marijuana envisioned by a majority of the voters in 2016 is now close to becoming a reality in North Dakota. Local leaders should make the zoning ordinance changes necessary for the final steps of the process.

Distribution of medical marijuana to qualified users could occur by the fourth quarter of this year. That means businesses that want to serve as a manufacturing center could be making applications to the state in March or April with the application process for distribution centers to follow.

Jamestown is the center of one of the eight regions where distribution centers are allowed. Within this region, Jamestown is the logical place as the hub of commerce and has the greatest presence of law enforcement personnel and agencies required for security for these types of facilities.

However, inactivity could cause the area to miss out on an opportunity.

One of the requirements that applicants must meet is proof that any planned business complies with local zoning regulations. Currently, neither the city or the county has any zoning regulation concerning medical marijuana.

That means Stutsman County and/or the city of Jamestown must develop new ordinances and have them in place no later than this summer if a medical marijuana dispensary is to locate here.

Keep in mind, passing an ordinance can take at least two months. The process can take even longer if the public is allowed time to provide input.

Local governments should not delay in doing their part to complete the regulations necessary to bring medical marijuana to North Dakota.

The North Dakota Department of Health has moved at its own pace in implementing the rules governing the medical marijuana industry.

(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’s editorial board)