Judge sides with Missouri medical cannabis store in zoning fight

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Missouri regulators cannot deny an application for a medical marijuana dispensary license before a hearing challenging zoning rules is held later this month, a judge ruled.

Healing Center of Kansas City filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and the city of Independence contending the municipality’s zoning regulations for MMJ dispensaries were overly restrictive, The Kansas City Star reported.

After the filing, Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green ruled that the state cannot reject the license application based on the city’s zoning rules until a Jan. 27 hearing.

The dispensary’s suit contends the city zoning rules creates an undue burden on the applicant, violating the Missouri Constitution.

Independence’s zoning eliminated 88% of the commercially zoned space in the city that could be used by dispensaries, Healing Center’s suit alleges.

“If nobody can sell (medical marijuana) then nobody can buy it,” Lowell Pearson, attorney for the plaintiff, told the Star. He also described the zoning restrictions as an “extraordinary restraint.”