Rules for marijuana businesses survive legal review – Tribune-Review
Updated 6 hours ago
Ross Township’s efforts to create rules for medical marijuana businesses that are stricter than state law have received the go-ahead after a review by Allegheny County’s legal department.
In anticipation of receiving applications for marijuana-related businesses, Ross commissioners unanimously approved regulations in March that only allows dispensaries in the commercial zoning district that covers the McKnight Road corridor, portions of Nelson Run Road and Perry Highway, and a few other locations.
The ordinance also limits growing and processing operations to the eight industrial zoning districts scattered around the township and requires that they have at least 10,000 square feet of property.
The medical marijuana program signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in April 2016 prohibits marijuana dispensaries from, among other things, operating within 1,000 feet of the property line of a public, private or parochial school or a day-care center.
But concerns about dispensaries sprouting up around Ross in places officials consider inappropriate prompted Ross commissioners to add churches and parks to the 1,000 feet list.
The board also debated adding homes to that list but dropped the idea after determining that it is likely it would not survive a court challenge.
“We felt having homes on the list would be too restrictive,” said Commissioner Steve Korbel. “But I think adding churches and parks is legal because it still leaves plenty of places for these businesses to operate.”
Municipalities can legally limit businesses to specific zoning districts, restrict hours of operation and require they meet any number of conditions, Korbel said, but the rules cannot be so restrictive that they prevent a business from being able to operate.
The law that created the medical marijuana program contains a provision in which the state may grant a waiver for the 1,000-foot rule “if it is shown