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Buffalo, Mo. leaders make exception for proposed medical marijuana dispensary location

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Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 9:52 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Another medical marijuana dispensary will be coming to the Ozarks. But not without a bit of controversy about where it’s going.

There are only a few places in Buffalo city limits zoned for a medical marijuana dispensary.

A vacant convenience store on the corner of Dallas and Maple Streets is one of them.

At a hearing Wednesday night, people in the community appealed to city leaders to put the shop somewhere else.

“I just thought, wow, that’s really close to the school, really close to our church,” said Nick Tritico

He works with youth groups at Bible Baptist Church in Buffalo. He says his concerns about a medical marijuana dispensary coming to town grew after he learned its location.

“In this case, as the crow flies, I think we’re within 950 feet of the school, under 400 feet of our church. To me it’s just a little bit close,” he said.

State law says that dispensaries must be at least 1000 feet from any school, church or day care.

Tritico and the church’s Senior Pastor, Joshua Keeney say they want city leaders to follow that law.

“Missouri voters voted and they said we want it within this distance and there’s reason for it. The reason for it is to protect the youth of our community,” said Tritico.

Keeney said, “I’m not looking at this as a debate in any form of medical marijuana it’s just purely about the location. There’s a reason its in state law the way it is.”

They, along with many others with similar concerns in the community, stated why they were against the proposed location of the medical marijuana dispensary at a public hearing.

However, state law also allows city officials to grant a variance to the legal requirements on the locations of the dispensaries. In other words, make an exception.

That’s what Buffalo’s Board of Adjustment did.

“My heart goes out to those people because I do understand. My father was a preacher. I do understand their concerns. I just feel like for the best interest of the city and everyone involved that this was the best way to go,” said chairperson Denise Reed.

The future owners of the business agree.

“As people understand the science behind it and the security aspects and other things they’ll be more comfortable with it,” said John Lopez.

Though not everyone, including Bible Baptist Church leaders, were happy with the decision.

“A unanimous decision was made to grant a variance and I really don’t have anything else more I can say except that I’m disappointed,” said Keeney.

It’s unclear if the church can or will appeal the board’s decision.

If all goes as planned the dispensary could open in a few months.

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