City of Branson passes local ordinance to regulate medical marijuana

Branson, MO. -- The City of Branson is putting some rules in place as medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to pop-up around the state at the beginning of next year.

While leaders of Missouri cities have no control over whether or not medical marijuana is allowed in their towns, they do have a say over where, when, and how it is grown, manufactured, and sold.

That's why the Branson Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance, giving the city some local control.

According to the new ordinance, marijuana won't be sold in the city's main tourism-based areas.

"We have to allow these type of facilities to exist here in the City of Branson, but we have to protect our tourism corridor, Highway 76 and The Landing," City Attorney Chris Lebeck said.

That is a rule to which some tourists have mixed reactions.

"I think it would be a smart thing to do, not to be in this area," Dorris Cambray said.

"I think it would be better here than the middle of nowhere, really," Carolynn Paquette said.

City leaders say the ordinance also helps them have some control over cultivation and manufacturing.

"Our regulations talk about smell, talk about construction, what these facilities are to look like," Lebeck said.

However, regulating where and how cannabis is grown and put on the shelves isn't the only way the city plans to manage medical marijuana locally. It's also helping local officers ensure legal use in Branson.

"The problem is, officer makes a traffic stop, during that traffic stop, finds marijuana, what do they do if that person driving that car that's in possession of it says I have a qualifying patient identification card, I'm legally allowed to possess that," Lebeck said.

That's why people will need to carry that card with them in the city limits. Lebeck says the ordinance is about abiding by state laws, while tailoring the use of medical marijuana to this town.

"Make sure it's distributed in a safe and effective manner and at the same time, allowing for it to occur," Lebeck said.

Applications for two dispensaries and one application for a cultivation and manufacturing facility for Branson have been submitted to the state. However, it's still unknown whether or not those licenses will actually be awarded.