As promised last month, Special Use Permits (SUP) for three medical marijuana dispensaries, a grow site, and a processing facility, were slated for discussion by the Sapulpa Municipal Area Planning Commission (SMAPC) meeting (for City and County) at the meeting on Tuesday, March 26th. With one dissenting vote from John Mark Young, local lawyer, the recommending body saw no legal reason to disapprove the businesses, and so approved them all. Young’s disapproval was based on the fact that marijuana is on the federal Schedule of Controlled Dangerous Substances.
The commissioners present and voting were Andrew Probst (Chair), Leon Warner, John Mark Young, Lou Martin, Jr., Debbie Frost, Randy Wood, David Smith and Kayla Parnell.
A new SUP for a Medical Marijuana Processing facility was recommended for denial by Nikki Howard, saying she didn’t have enough information to “feel comfortable” approving it. John Sears, who was the applicant, DBA “Fuego Premium Extracts,” had a lot of information to “allay fears” of the Commission.
First of all, Sears’ facility is a rented space in the same building as an existing medical marijuana dispensary on Hwy. 66, west of Sapulpa. He assured the leaders that his facility was “completely safe,” “most expensive” (about $100,000), and contains an air compressor “the exact same size as one in a soda machine.”
Commissioner Kayla Parnell asked him how this facility would “benefit the community.” Sears paused and then said, “Taxes—doing business locally. It is a great location for us.”
John Mark Young asked: “Is it a Controlled Dangerous Substance per federal law?” to which Sears answered, “Yes, it is, sir.”
The Tulsa resident said his facility would begin with marijuana plants, and through the processing end up with essential oils, for edibles and other products, and the end “product” would be “straw,” the leftover “dry plant material” which is “void of psychoactive compounds.” Further, he explained that it is a wholesale business, and that if it is sold locally, there would be sales tax benefits.
One local resident, Lee Kenton, who lives in a home behind the current facility, heated up the discussion when he asked why Sears kept a race car at that facility. Chairman Probst said that it is a large building and there is no reason why Sears couldn’t store his private project car there. It is not a car repair location. Then Kenton accused the existing owner of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary of not complying with the provisions of his SUP including not maintaining the proper privacy fence in place and incorrect signage.
Probst reminded all present that the enforcement of all code is through the Code Enforcement office. Mr. Kenton said he had called Code Enforcement twice on the matter and nothing had happened. Then Nikki Howard said she had been there and “you can’t see through it during the day.”
Kenton shouted, “I beg to differ with you!” Then, he offered pictures of the screening, taken a couple of hours earlier, and said, “The next big wind—it’s gone!”
Several times, the prospective processor used the expression,“just in time” inventory, meaning the product would be there only one night in a locked safe. After many other questions were answered, the commission voted to approve (except for one vote) the SUP to “send it to the City Council” on April 1st.
Next items were two SUPs to allow Medical Marijuana Retail Dispensaries, one on the corner of State Highway 66 and West 78th Street South and one on East Hobson and North Water Street.
The one on West 78th is in a strip mall. Brenda Miller is the applicant, but her fiance, Rick Jewell, spoke to the commission. One of the provisions of approval is that trash must be picked up in the area, and one provision removed was to add paved parking, since the mall already has it.
When asked if loitering might be a problem, Nikki Howard stated that it was “no problem…It’s not a hang-out.” The name of the dispensary will be “Mary Jane’s 918,” and Jewell was waiting to get his state license ($2,500 fee) until he had an approved address. This was approved with one dissenting vote.
Commissioner Lou Martin asked if the facility was “going to have enough business”, and Chairman Andrew Probst interrupted saying that “the free market will determine” how many dispensaries an area can support.
At the other location, Judith Beck, applicant faces several unique obstacles, one being the “Historic Preservation District” rules. The outside of the building has to be preserved, regardless of what business goes on inside. Beck does have her State Dispensary license, and, ironically, Beck is also licensed Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselor. A large parking lot separates the Medical Marijuana Dispensary from the Human Skills & Resources (Drug and Alcohol Treatment and DUI School among other services).
Paul Franks asked for an SUP for a Marijuana Retail Dispensary and a Commercial Medical Marijuana Grow Facility at 8777 State Highway 66 (New Sapulpa Road). He doesn’t have his State license either because it is $5,000 for both facilities. He stated the grow facility is not a greenhouse, but a fully enclosed, locked building, with no lights or odor emanating from it. It is further than the required 1,000 feet from Freedom School, the Fire Marshall is fully trained to be able to detect any infringement of rules. Mr. Franks has had his Concealed Carry License for over 15 years. The warehouse is 6,000 square feet of metal and the front is wood. Chairman Probst said “it is obviously in their best interest to have greater security,” and it is in a Business Corridor with restrictions on how the front of the building should appear along with landscaping, screening, and other issues.
All these facilities were approved with one dissenting vote.
Also Central Tech represented by Dr. Kim Howard asked for a permanent SUP to turn an existing machine shop next door to the school into more school space. When it is renovated, the new school area will “mirror the rest of the facility.” This prospect was met with resounding approval from all commissioners. Someone in the audience remarked about John Mark Young, “He can say ‘Yes’, huh?”
The meeting was adjourned after 2 hours. The next move for all the above SUP applicants is to attend the City Council meeting on April 1st to be approved or denied officially.
The next SMAPC meeting will take place on April 23, 2019 (4th Tuesday of each month) in the City Council Chambers.