It was a long time in coming, but medical marijuana was finally legalized in Pennsylvania last spring. The commonwealth thus joined more than two dozen other states and the District of Columbia where the use of marijuana in some form is allowed for medicinal purposes.

The new law promises potential relief for the victims of a number of debilitating conditions — among them epilepsy, cancer, seizures  and multiple sclerosis — for whom conventional treatments have not been effective. Pennsylvania’s law stipulates that medical marijuana will be available in pill, oil or ointment form (but not by smoking) if prescribed by a physician registered as a practitioner.

The mechanisms for getting dispensers and growers of marijuana licensed and set up in Pennsylvania (home growing is not permitted) are still being finalized. The law prohibits municipalities from banning marijuana businesses outright, but local officials do have say where such businesses can operate within their borders. One community that’s preparing itself for the marijuana trade is Bedminster, where last week the supervisors voted to advertise a new ordinance restricting dispensaries, growers and production facilities for the new medicine to the township’s industrial district. The industrial zone is located off state Route 611 in the area of Applebutter Road and Appletree Lane.

The supervisors are being proactive here, in that no marijuana businesses have yet expressed interest in moving to the township. But as township manager Rich Schilling explained, the absence of zoning restrictions could leave the door open for a marijuana operation to set up wherever it wanted. In essence, Bedminster officials are establishing the rules now to head off any legal disputes in the future. It’s a wise move that other municipalities should be thinking about if they aren’t already. As much as we’re in favor of medical marijuana — we supported enactment of a state law for a long time — tight controls in producing and dispensing the drug are an absolute must.

Bedminster’s proposed ordinance limits not only where a marijuana business can operate but prohibits outside displays and storage. And it requires a buffer zone, stipulates parking and mandates that every business fully comply with the state Medical Marijuana Act.

The supervisors will likely hold a hearing to gauge public sentiment on the prospect of having a marijuana business as a neighbor. A well-crafted zoning ordinance should go a long way in addressing any concerns residents might have.

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