HELENA – The city of Helena will allow a medical marijuana dispensary to continue operating in city limits for the next six months.
Monday, commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance placing a moratorium on city code, which prohibited the city from issuing a license to a business permitted by state law, but prohibited federally.
In September, the city annexed an area west of city limits where a dispensary was already in operation.
The moratorium will allow the business to continue operating until June 30, 2019, while the city considers amending the code.
“Can I even get a lease for six months?” said Kayt Bonahoom, who spoke against the moratorium. “I have to sign a year lease and then be prepared to shut it down. I just don’t see what the six-month moratorium really achieves except for continued uncertainty.”
She encouraged commissioners to wait before making any decision.
One person supported the decision.
“There will be lots of time to work out details and concerns from business owners,” said Doreen Bomar. “But this is really about making sure patients continue to have access that doesn’t go interrupted.”
The moratorium will be effective city-wide.
If another dispensary wants to operate in city limits during the sixth-month period, it will be able to do so in the proper zoning district.
But if the city doesn’t take action before the moratorium expires, they will have to cease operation.
The moratorium becomes effective 30 days from its passage.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Kali Wicks officially became Helena’s newest city commissioner.
She replaces Rob Farris-Olsen, who was elected to represent House District 79 in the state legislature.
Commissioners chose Wicks out of 11 applicants for the position.
She told MTN she’s excited to work with the current commissioners, and some of her top priorities include tackling affordable housing and improving city services like snow removal.
Wicks will serve the last year of Farris-Olsen’s term and will be able to run for a full four-year term in the 2019 city elections.
-Reported by Evelyn Schultz/MTN News