Three medical marijuana dispensaries approved for Branson area

STONE AND TANEY COUNTIES, Mo. -- Three new shops will likely be coming to the Branson area, offering something that wasn't legal before voters approved medical marijuana in Missouri.

The state has approved medical marijuana dispensaries in Branson West and Branson.

One of the shops was approved for a location on Business 13 across from Walmart in Branson West. It's across the street and down from The Quilted Cow, a business that's been in the community for about ten years.

"Precautions are going to have to be taken because I don't know what that type of business is going to draw," Co-Owner Inez Risner said.

That location is one of two approved sites in Branson West.

"I'm hoping it's on the up and up. Medical marijuana has been used for years from what I understand. I think it's a good thing for people that suffer," Risner said.

In Branson, a dispensary is also planned near the site of the new aquarium off West 76 Country Boulevard on the corner of Green Mountain Drive and Wildwood.

The building used to be Lone Star Steakhouse and it located in a zoning district where medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed, but just up the hill about a quarter of a mile is the Branson Strip and dispensaries aren't allowed within the entertainment district.

"Areas that the board of aldermen did not feel were appropriate for this type of use or this type of business," Planning & Development Director Joel Hornickel said.

However, one nearby business owner says if the goal is to serve a medical need, that the building is in a "highly inconvenient" location for customers. The building sits among mainly tourist attractions and hotels.

Hornickel says the business will still have to get a city license and possible construction permits.

"Which will trigger several inspections from multiple departments to ensure the business is doing what it is supposed to," Hornickel said.

Meanwhile Risner says voters have spoken, so she'll take it as it comes.

"There's no getting away from it," Risner said. "Just wait and see. We'll see what happens."

Branson city leaders say the dispensary will have to follow certain state and city rules like only operating only between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and having an armed security guard on site.

Out of the seven applications in Branson, only the one on Wildwood Drive was approved. Five were applied for in Branson West and only the two on Business 13 were approved.

One dispensary was also approved in Cassville. The two applications for Hollister were denied. One was denied in Reeds Spring, one was denied in Ridgedale, one was denied in Rockaway Beach, and one was denied in Walnut Shade.