The City of Moore has suspended its ordinance that regulated medical marijuana businesses in the city limits after a ruling that could impact how municipalities deal with the new industry.
City Attorney Randy Brink said Moore opted to suspend its ordinance, which set up zoning restrictions and fee schedules to operate in the city, after a Tulsa County District Court ruling last month. In that ruling, the court found that Oklahoma cities cannot enact that type of ordinance that regulates medical marijuana businesses.
The regulation is at the state level, Brink said.
“With that ruling, the city looked at it and said we had two choices: suspend our enforcement for now, or risk litigation with this ruling and probably end up with the same outcome,” Brink said.
A lawsuit was filed against the City of Broken Arrow by Austin Miller and his company, Cloudi Mornings, LLC. The suit alleged that Broken Arrow could not legally enforce the medical marijuana ordinance passed by council members.
Brink said Broken Arrow’s ordinance was similar to the one passed by Moore City Council in October. He said State Question 788 does prevent cities from passing ordinances, but the language suggests it means ordinances that would essentially prevent medical marijuana businesses from existing at all.
“What that was done and designed to do was to prevent cities from effectively zoning them out, creating a classification of zoning and then not providing any areas of the city zoned for that,” Brink said.
The injunction handed down by the Tulsa County court prevented Broken Arrow’s ordinance from being enforced. It states “as a matter of law, Oklahoma cities are precluded from adopting regulations, zoning overlays, fees or other restrictions as to the medical marijuana business activities authorized by Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act.”
There is a restriction in 788 that covers dispensaries, stating they cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school. However, the rest of the language doesn’t specify restrictions growers, processors or other medical marijuana businesses, Brink said.
“With 788 being silent on growers, processors, and those other businesses, the City of Moore, and other cities, felt that allowed a zoning restriction for those types of activities,” Brink said.
But the court injunction is based on medical marijuana regulations being solely a state issue. Moore maintains the 1,000-feet rule for dispensaries because that language is in the state question, but everything else is left up to the state’s Medical Marijuana Authority.
“These aren’t restrictive. They’re just like any other business, but this ruling seems to fall on the side of what’s called state pre-emption,” Brink said. “By the passing of 788, and the rules and regulations of the medical marijuana authority, it is now a statewide regulation and cities are out of it.”
The remainder of Moore’s medical marijuana ordinance remains suspended pending the future of this legal tussle. Brink said he is unaware of where it goes next.
“We’ll wait and see what happens for that final resolution,” Brink said.