Hampton to review zoning laws for potential cannabis dispensary

Hampton is reviewing its zoning laws in hopes of attracting a medical marijuana dispensary — one that would grow, manufacture and sell the product.

The city’s review comes on the heels of new amendments to Virginia’s medical marijuana use laws the General Assembly passed in March, which now allow companies to do in-state processing, sale and distribution of medical cannabis oils for patient use.

In April, the Virginia Board of Pharmacy began accepting applications from parties interested in establishing what the state termed “pharmaceutical processors” — facilities with a permit to grow the plants, manufacture the product and then sell it, all from the same site.

About 51 applications have since been submitted, which required a $10,000 filing fee. The application process closed June 8 and the Board of Pharmacy could begin awarding conditional permits as early as August.

The Board of Pharmacy expects to award one license to each of state’s five health service districts, as designated by the Virginia Department of Health. Hampton is in a district that includes 24 localities around Southside, Middle Peninsula, Peninsula and parts of Northern Neck.

As of last week, the Hampton Roads area had 15 pending applications, according to the Board of Pharmacy.

City officials said they want to ensure the proper zoning laws are in place in the event an applicant comes to Hampton. They see pharmaceutical processors as a viable business opportunity Hampton should be ready to capitalize on when the time comes.

“We have received a flurry of inquiries of what our zoning laws allow and do not allow. No city saw this coming and no city has a medical marijuana (facility) listed,” City Manager Mary Bunting said. “Because of the way the state has decided to set this up, it presents a unique challenge.”

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