Navigating Local Cannabis Zoning Regulations

Cannabis Zoning Regulations
Cannabis Zoning Regulations

As more and more states legalize marijuana for recreational and/or medical use, there is a growing demand for cannabis dispensaries. However, most local municipalities in the U.S. strictly regulate dispensaries. As a result, marijuana businesses tend to be allowed to operate only in certain geographic areas – even when the state has legalized weed.

What Are Municipal Zoning Laws?

Zoning laws set forth the precise ways in which properties in specific geographic zones can be used. A municipality is divided into different zones, with each zone allowing properties to have certain types of land uses. This means that some types of land uses are either permitted or prohibited in specific areas.

Some of the different types of governmental land use restrictions include:

  • Purpose – Residential, Commercial, or Industrial
  • Size of Building
  • Height of Structure
  • Placement of Building
  • Number of Rooms

Land-use zoning typically involves regulating properties in a zone to be used for either residential or commercial purposes. This kind of zoning can get even more detailed and allow for very particular uses, such as a cannabis dispensary.

How Zoning Laws Impact Cannabis Businesses

For many entrepreneurs, zoning laws are major obstacles to opening and operating a business. This is particularly true for marijuana retail dispensaries because pot is already a highly regulated substance and is subject to greater scrutiny by state and local officials. Local zoning ordinances limit the options for properties to be used for commercial purposes generally, and state marijuana laws go even further by limiting the total number of cannabis dispensary licenses that are available in a state, municipality, or zoning area.

When it comes to cannabis businesses, there may be all kinds of restrictions on land use and building placement. In fact, it is not uncommon for a local municipality to stipulate that a dispensary must be located at least 1,000 feet away from any schools, daycare centers, public parks, or churches. Many municipalities also require cannabis stores to be situated a certain distance from any residences.

What Can Cannabis Operators Do to Avoid Zoning Obstacles?

How should a cannabis operator go about dealing with zoning regulations and restrictions? One step that local marijuana businesses can take is to contact their local officials and request information about zoning ordinances. It is best to do this early in the process because the process can be time consuming and may involve complex regulations.

Another important step that a marijuana business can take to deal with zoning restrictions is to find a business partner that has experience helping cannabis operators navigate local zoning regulations. This is especially important because pot dispensaries tend to be heavily regulated and local rules can vary greatly from state to state and city to city. For instance, some municipalities require cannabis stores to operate in industrial zones, while other municipalities allow more flexibility for medical marijuana dispensaries. Depending on the city or town, other cannabis property regulations might include the size of the store, square footage of the interior sales floor, lighting inside the building, space available for parking, package delivery times, and security personnel.

Scythian Real Estate is a real estate partner of some of the country’s largest cannabis retail companies. Scythian manages and develops marijuana properties and has a portfolio of single-tenant cannabis real estate assets that is spread across multiple limited-license states, which means that the company has extensive experience dealing with municipalities and navigating local zoning laws in legal cannabis markets.

Contact Scythian Real Estate About Cannabis Zoning Laws

If you are a cannabis operator and want to know more about the implications of local zoning laws for your business, Scythian Real Estate may be able to assist you. Email Scythian today.