PRINCETON – Medical marijuana dispensaries and where they can go in the city will be the topic of an upcoming Princeton Planning Commission meeting later this month.

The Princeton Planning Commission is meeting March 25 at the Municipal Building on Bee Street to consider "appropriate zoning regulations for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Princeton," according to legal notice published Wednesday in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the public will be able to access the meeting by teleconference. The dial-in number is 1-917-900-1022, and the conference ID is 745-4776.

"We put the ball into the court of the commission to see what areas it should be zoned into," Mayor David Graham stated about the dispensaries. The public will be able to make comments during the teleconference meeting.

The city plans to follow state guidelines when deciding in which zones medical marijuana can be dispensed, Graham said. For example, the dispensaries will not be allowed within 1,000 feet of any public school, private school, daycare, parochial school or any similar institution.

The planning commission will make its recommendation, then send it to city council for consideration, he said.

"I think we'll have to write an ordinance, and then have two public readings of the ordinance," Graham added.

Permits for two companies that applied to the state for permits to operate medical cannabis dispensaries in Mercer County were approved in early February. Terrasana dba (Doing Business As) Princeton Retail was granted a permit to operate a dispensary in Princeton, and five other sites around the state, including one in Beckley. Holistic WV Farms LLC, a Washington D.C.-based company, was granted a permit to operate a dispensary in Bluefield as well as in nine other sites around the state.

After the list of dispensaries was announced, Sgt. A.M. Ballard with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia Coalfields Highway Safety Program said that people using legal marijuana products can face DUI arrests if the substance impairs their ability to drive. The fact that the substance was obtained legally would not alleviate the charge. This standard applies also to drugs such as anti-depression medications. Using anti-depressant medications with alcohol or marijuana with pain medication increases the chances for facing a DUI charge.

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