City officials may ask the state to relax restrictions on how close medical marijuana dispensaries can be to schools and day-care facilities, saying current rules would limit access in Philadelphia.
"Our density of schools and day cares is already so high, it would be making locations very challenging to find," Paula Brumbelow, a senior planner with the city, told a committee of City Council on Wednesday.
The committee was considering local zoning restrictions ahead of the launch of medical marijuana, which was approved by Gov. Wolf in April and is expected to launch in fall 2017 at the earliest.
Planning Commission staff said Wednesday that they expect four dispensaries to open in the city and four growing operations to open in the region. If a growing facility were to open within the city limits, it would be restricted to industrial areas.
Under the state law, dispensaries cannot open within 1,000 feet of schools or day-care centers. The city's legislation would shorten that to within 500 feet of schools and remove the restriction for day-care centers.
Councilman Derek S. Green, who introduced the legislation, said the city legislation would add a 500-foot restriction around parks, playgrounds, libraries, pools, and recreation centers with the goal of "balancing access and respecting the desire to remove dispensaries from locations frequented by children."
The legislation also includes a blanket restriction on dispensaries in residential areas.
Green's legislation also initially included a restriction on dispensaries' being within 500 feet of churches and hotels. Brumbelow said those rules were removed after city planners realized they would exclude much of Center City.
The Philadelphia-specific regulations would be enforced only if the state grants waivers approving the dispensary and growing sites.
Council could vote on the regulations as soon as next Thursday.