County commission considers medical cannabis ordinances

The Lake County Commission approved the first reading of two ordinances regarding the zoning and licensing of medical cannabis establishments in the county.

Commissioners held a special meeting on Tuesday in order to take the first action on the ordinances, which will both have second readings by the commission during its next meeting on Tuesday. 

Commissioners met jointly with the county’s Planning Commission in order to discuss the changes for the county’s zoning ordinance.  Commission Administrative Officer Shelli Gust explained to commissioners what is included in the ordinance, including that cannabis dispensaries will only be allowed as a special permitted use within a commercial/industrial district in the county.  She said that the ordinance also states that the county shall allow up to two cannabis dispensaries. 

The ordinance also sets the hours that cannabis dispensaries are allowed to be open, which commissioners held quite a bit of discussion on Tuesday.  They decided to set hours somewhat based on when local pharmacies would be open and decided to set the hours for Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 until 5:00 p.m. Planning Commissioner Jodi Ackerman said she didn’t think the dispensaries needed to be open on Sundays.

The ordinance states that cannabis dispensaries also would be closed on federal holidays.  

The Planning Commission voted to recommend the amended zoning ordinance to the County Commission for its consideration, and then county commissioners approved its first reading.

County commissioners then discussed the county’s licensing ordinance for cannabis establishments, which sets the fee for those who want to apply for a county license at five-thousand dollars, with a renewal fee of five-thousand dollars as well.  Gust said that applicants to the county will need to have a registration certificate from the state Department of Health in order to apply.  The licensing ordinance also outlines several other details regarding cannabis establishment licenses.

For the licensing ordinance, a public hearing will be held during the county commission’s next meeting on Tuesday, September 7th before it considers approval of the second reading of the ordinance.