A Havre city committee gave approval to a proposal Tuesday night that would severely limit the medical marijuana business in Havre, but falls short of an outright ban.
Members of the Planning and Zoning Committee said, while they voted for the proposal, they will not rule out further restrictions in the future.
Committee members said the action was largely a procedural vote aimed at keeping the proposed city rezoning moving forward.
Committee members hope the redraw of zoning lines will go before Havre City Council in the next couple of months.
Under the plan adopted Tuesday, medical marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries would be allowed in some zoning categories. The committee has not decided, however, in what zoning areas medical marijuana would be allowed.
In any case, medical marijuana facilities would be barred within 1,000 feet of schools and day care centers. Under the plan, existing medical marijuana facilities would have to move if they are within this restriction area. This is a provision, members acknowledged, which may result in a lawsuit.
When the matter goes to City Council, committee members said they may support more restrictive measures.
"This is something where I may vote for it (limited medical marijuana) before I vote against it," said council member Pam Hillery.
Committee member Andrew Brekke favors an outright ban on medical marijuana in the city, but predicted he would be outvoted in the council.
Failing a ban, Brekke said he would vote for the most restrictive measures possible.
Hillery said the public is divided on the issue, and neither side would be happy with the committee's action.
"The people who want it banned won't be happy," she said.
And supporters of medical marijuana will probably sue, she said.
Medical marijuana is legal under Montana law, while being outlawed under federal law.
Hillery said after Tuesday's meeting that medical marijuana grow operations and sales would be prohibited in large swaths of the city either by the zoning regulations or because of proximity to schools.