Ollis & Schilling’s Marijuana Surprise at Council Lunch

The agenda for the Tuesday’s lunch session of Springfield City Council seemed innocuous enough with a discussion of the upcoming budget and a glance over the agenda for Monday night’s regularly scheduled Council meeting.

But at the end of the meeting, that went up in smoke.

Councilman Richard Ollis

Then during the discussion of the agenda for Monday night, Councilman Richard Ollis dropped the bomb that he and Councilman Mike Schilling are working on a substitute bill related to the distance marijuana facilities can be located from schools.

Ollis said that substitute bill will likely, among other things, change the distance marijuana facilities can be located from schools to 500 feet in an attempt to have a “compromise” between the two sides of the debate. Ollis and Schilling are still discussing what will be within the actual substitute bill. The substitute bill is expected to be in the hands of Council members by the end of the week so they can review it before Monday night’s meeting.

Schilling said that the 1,000 foot restriction from schools and daycares would cause “excess limitation on property available for dispensaries” in the downtown area.

The admission was met with a less-than-welcome response from Councilman Craig Hosmer that led to a semi-heated confrontation between Schilling and Hosmer.

Schilling said he would like to see evidence of problems with kids and dispensaries and Hosmer responded that Schilling needed to talk to the Springfield police department about what they found in Colorado and Washington. When Schilling said it would only be speculation on the part of the SPD, Hosmer reiterated that his proposal that passed at the last Council meeting was based on what is done in Colorado and Washington.

Councilwoman Ferguson then added that she was concerned that the law’s restrictions on marijuana facilities near residential areas would keep any dispensaries from being on Commercial Street. The law is written in a way that if a building has residential space in it on any level, the entire building is considered residential for marijuana business purposes, even if the first floor of the building allows commercial business.

The public will have the chance to speak to Council on the measure, likely at the Council meeting on May 20, because there would have to be notice made of the public meeting before Council can act upon a substitute bill introduced on Monday night.

Also at the meeting related to the marijuana law considerations was information from City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader regarding state definition of daycare facilities in relation to medical marijuana. The draft law from the state indicates that only state licensed daycares are considered for separation from marijuana facilities, so daycares in churches and other exempt organizations will not be protected entities under the law.