The city’s planning and zoning committee will consider removing barriers to make it easier for medical marijuana centers to open on Main Street and in other commercial areas at its next meeting Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The zoning change would allow marijuana merchants to apply for a business license like any other business, instead of being required to face city councilors to ask for a special permit.
City Planning Director Michael Vickers said the planning department initiated the change to keep up with other cities and governments in New Mexico.
“It’s just something we need to address in the future, as far as zoning,” Vickers said. “Part of our job is to stay in front of things in the zoning world, so we’re not going after the fact to fix things.”
The city estimates that at least 200 private distributers are already state licensed to sell marijuana in Roswell.
“These are already existing in our city,” Louis Jaramillo, zoning administrator, told the planning and zoning committee this week. “Maybe we should make it possible for one distribution center (to open) without a special permit. It’s definitely something to think about.”
If an official marijuana distribution opened in Roswell, it would be the first in Southeast New Mexico, as far as his research showed, Jaramillo said.
In meetings with other cities, Vickers said, zoning restrictions on the marijuana centers create problems. Vickers questioned if it is legal for the city to have a special use permit placed on the centers.
“We have to follow state and federal laws,” Vickers said. “We’re making sure we can allow permits for this. That’s what we get paid to do. The purpose of zoning is not to limit what people can do with your property. We’re always looking at this stuff.”
The planning department has not received any applications for medical marijuana centers, but has had phone calls.
“I understand it’s a hot topic,” Vickers said. “This is the best way to look at it.”
Once the planning and zoning committee takes action on the item, and if it is approved, the item would then be considered by the City Council at its meeting in December.
The public would then be given a chance to comment.
The New Mexico Department of Health administers and ensures enforcement of any criminal laws the Medical Cannabis Program.
As of Aug. 30, 9,960 active patients and 23 licensed non-profit producers are registered with the NMDOH. There are 17 qualifying conditions eligible for the program.
The private producers are kept confidential by the department.