LUCEDALE, Miss. (WKRG) – Legally, medical marijuana can start growing in the city of Lucedale on Sept. 15. Practically, a local investor says there’s nowhere to grow it.

The ordinance allowing cultivation was approved last month with the stipulation that growth facilities cannot be within 1,500 feet of residential areas and any church, school or childcare facility.

Michael West told the city’s aldermen Tuesday the residential buffer alone made establishing a growth facility impossible.

“The way my attorney looked at it was if you have a plot of land and it’s used as residential, you had to actually go from the boundaries of it. So there’s actually zero places in the field that would be usable for cultivation,” West said.

After the state legalized medical marijuana in February, the city opted out in April until more rules and guidelines for municipalities were established. West spent most of the summer lobbying the board of aldermen to opt back in to allowing growth and sale in city limits. 

Under the recently established city ordinance, a dispensary selling marijuana products requires a 1,000 foot buffer. It also includes an option for homes, churches, schools or childcare facilities to give consent for a dispensary to establish within 500 to 1,000 feet of their property.

It wasn’t made clear in the meeting why the ordinance’s language established different requirements for dispensing versus cultivation businesses. Few aldermen gave any input. 

Most of the conversation during the audience requests and comments portion of the regular was between West and city attorney Cameron McCormick. He questioned West’s methodology in determining there were no potential locations to establish a growth facility.

McCormick also shared his thought the board may be more open to giving West a waiver if he had a specific location in mind ready to purchase and start growing medical marijuana but it was less than 1,500 feet from a home.

“[At 1,500 feet] I wouldn’t even attempt to look because I know that I have another opportunity that I don’t have to fight for. It costs me more money, but I can get started immediately,” West said. “If it’s too much resistance, I’m gonna have to bow out. I want to come here, but I don’t want to feel like I’m not wanted.”

He said he has a location identified to build a growth facility closer to the coast that would likely come with substantially higher real estate prices than facilities or land available in the untapped Lucedale market.

Ward 3 Alderman Jason Martin tried to assure West that the city wanted to work with him to bring the economic opportunity to the city.

“Everybody I’ve talked to on this board, Michael, they want y’all, we we want y’all to come. We don’t wanna make it impossible,” Martin said.

He moved to amend the ordinance to allow growth facilities within 500 feet of residential properties with the owner’s consent. It died with no alderman seconding.

Stay ahead of the biggest stories, breaking news and weather in Mobile, Pensacola and across the Gulf Coast and Alabama. Download the WKRG News 5 news app and be sure to turn on push alerts.