Alpharetta prohibits medical marijuana oil production facilities, limits where oil can be sold

Credit: Bita Honarvar

Credit: Bita Honarvar

Alpharetta amended its city code to prohibit medical marijuana production facilities in the city and to limit where dispensaries can operate.

Community Development Director Kathi Cook said the measure is in response to a Georgia law allowing medical marijuana production and sales.

City Council approved the amendments to the city code Monday. While production facilities are prohibited, businesses that sell or produce “low THC oil,” or medical marijuana oil, can apply for conditional use zoning in light industrial districts.

Alpharetta has areas zoned for light industrial use along Mansell Road, Old Milton Parkway and other corridors. In Alpharetta, light industrial zoning is for businesses with limited manufacturing, assembling, wholesaling, warehousing and other related activities.

The amendment does not allow the businesses to be closer than 2,000 feet to child care centers or schools, churches and other worship centers, government buildings, parks, residential dwellings, treatment centers for alcohol or substance abuses, or any other medical marijuana business.

Cook, in a Thursday email, said she knew of no companies that have applied to open dispensaries or production facilities in Alpharetta.

During the Monday meeting, Councilmen Ben Burnett was the sole vote in opposition of the amendments and questioned if it’s unconstitutional to not allow production businesses an opportunity to seek zoning to open a facility.

“It rubs me the wrong way,” Burnett said.

He added that the cost of Alpharetta land to build a production facility wouldn’t be advantageous to a business owner.

“It’s $3 million an acre down here,” Burnett said. “You can go to south Georgia and get a lot more for a lot less. To tell that industry that it can’t come before us and ask for a conditional use is wrong.”

Cook said the recommendation to amend the city code is in response to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission’s selection in July of six medical marijuana producers granted permission to sell the drug. Each licensee will be authorized to open five dispensaries.

She told council members that the state has reported limited information on requirements and regulations for those dispensaries but as updates come out Alpharetta could reconsider the current changes to the city code.

“This is our recommendation based on the information we have,” Cook said of the amendments.