Bucks County Herald

Talks continue on medical marijuana regulations in Upper Makefield

CHRIS RUVO

Officials have temporarily put the brakes on rules that would define where medical marijuana businesses could operate in Upper Makefield, Wrightstown and Newtown townships.

At their Aug. 7 meeting, Upper Makefield’s Board of Supervisors had planned to consider an ordinance that would establish what zoning districts medical marijuana dispensaries and medical cannabis growing/processing facilities could operate in.

However, the ordinance never made it to the discussion floor.

“The solicitor determined it wasn’t ready and needed revisions,” said Upper Makefield Township Manager David Nyman. “It will probably be up again for discussion in September.”

Ultimately, as Nyman indicates, Wrightstown, Upper Makefield and Newtown townships expect to have rules in place regulating the permitted location of medical marijuana businesses within their borders.

While the ordinance could change, a draft version indicated that medical cannabis dispensaries would be allowed in the Village Commercial 1 Zoning district, which covers select areas in Upper Makefield and Wrightstown, according to a zoning map. Medical marijuana growing/processing facilities would be allowed in the Light Industrial Zoning district, which lies in Newtown Township, according to the map.

The ordinance regulating medical marijuana businesses is the work of the Newtown Area Zoning Jointure, a body consisting of officials from Wrightstown, Upper Makefield and Newtown townships that establishes zoning rules for the three neighboring municipalities. For new zoning rules to be enacted, supervisors in each municipality must approve them.

Pennsylvania rules prohibit municipalities from banning medical marijuana facilities because they’re a permitted business under state law. Nonetheless, municipalities can use local zoning to establish where such businesses can set up shop within their borders.

Like other commonwealth municipalities, Upper Makefield, Wrightstown and Newtown townships are exercising their right to regulate where cannabis ventures can operate in a manner that makes the most sense for the towns.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act into law in April 2016.

Under the law, people suffering from a range of qualified medical conditions – from cancer and HIV/AIDS, to chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin – can obtain a prescription for medical cannabis through a physician. Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal under state law.




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