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Sewickley zoning laws could permit marijuana dispensary

| Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, 3:14 p.m.

Sewickley leaders have determined marijuana dispensaries — if one was to come to the municipality — would fall under the definition of “pharmacy” and would be permitted in the borough.

In a Sept. 9 letter, borough Manager Kevin Flannery said a marijuana dispensary would be “limited to a rather small area” because of a state statute that would prevent a dispensary within 1,000 feet of a school or day care.

The letter was sent to Sewickley resident Denise Mueller, founder of Lauren Green Medical LLC.

Mueller attended an August council meeting seeking an agreement letter from the borough to provide to the state Department of Health showing that a dispensary can be placed in Sewickley if a license was approved.

The state plans at least one dispensary per county, with more in densely populated areas such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania on April 17.

The complete implementation of the program is expected to take up to two years and includes setting up dispensaries and laboratories.

The state has not yet opened the application process for potential dispensaries, said April Hutcheson, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She said the guidelines will call for dispensaries to be in commercially zoned ares and be 1,000 feet or more from a child care center or school.

“Each community zoning board is unique so it's possible that some people are trying to be proactive,” Hutcheson said.

Under state law, doctors would be able to prescribe medical marijuana for patients with certain diseases. Those obtaining prescriptions would need ID cards issued by the state. The medical marijuana will be available as pills, oil or ointment at up to 50 dispensaries. The diseases eligible for treatment include cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Mueller said she started about four years ago the quest of creating a medical cannabis dispensary and grow facility. The grow facility would not be located in Sewickley.

The letter, signed by Flannery, states the dispensary is a permitted use in the Commercial 1, Commercial 2 and Village Overlay zoning districts.

“The dispensary, as you have stated, will be selling pharmaceutical items and is also authorized by state statute to sell medical devices and instruments which are needed to administer medical marijuana. It should, therefore, be treated the same as a pharmacy,” Flannery wrote in the letter.

Mueller said her lawyer advised her not to comment on the borough's letter at this time.

Tribune-Review staff writer Ben Schmitt contributed to this report. Larissa Dudkiewicz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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