The Middletown Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 for Middletown to allow up to one marijuana grower-processor and one dispensary in the township.
The dissenter, Tom Tosti, said the ordinance was too restrictive.
“I support the direction we’re heading, but I think we’re limiting ourselves,” he explained. “I want to do more for this, because it can help us all throughout this area.”
The now-current ordinance allows for a dispensary in Middletown’s commercial district with the stipulations it be located at least 1,000 feet from schools, residences, places of worship and day care, and 2,000 feet from any drug or alcohol treatment facilities.
The dispensary must be entirely indoors and cannot have a drive-through. Products may not be used on the premises, and no one under 18 is allowed in without a guardian.
Both the dispensary and grower allowances are conditional, meaning specific businesses must still gain approval from the Board before moving in.
Tosti raised concern regarding the grower-processor part of the ordinance. Such an operation is restricted to the town’s light manufacturing district, where, he pointed out, there are no vacant buildings.
A potential grower in Middletown would have to construct a new building — a move that may deter business from a “highly regulated” industry with the potential to bring jobs and revenue to the township.
Tosti also touted the benefits of medical marijuana for pain management in contrast to the use of opioids, which are addictive and often abused.
“You see people who are using medical marijuana and are able to get off of those opioids for pain,” he said.
Those points were underscored by Angela White, CEO of Indiva, LLC, a company that hopes to open a dispensary in Bucks. Currently, she is looking at sites in Falls, Bristol Township and Middletown.
White, currently a healthcare administrator, stressed the heavy regulations and the fact that medical marijuana is mostly administered via pills, topical ointments, wax and inhalers rather than smoked.
She also pointed to one grower/processor looking in the area, which could generate 200 or more jobs.
“We hope you welcome us as a business,” said White.
Act 16, the medical marijuana law passed last year in Pennsylvania, allows for certain forms of the medication like pills, oil, topical gels, creams and ointments, liquid, tincture and forms “medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization.” It excludes the dry leaf or plant form or intoxicating edibles like baked goods or candy.
Applications for those businesses became available last Tuesday, the night of the Middletown vote, at 5 p.m., and can be submitted between Feb. 20 and March 20.
Middletown follows Lower Southampton and Falls Township in Lower Bucks, which passed similar zoning ordinances this fall. Langhorne Borough began drafting its own ordinance in December.