The Wrangell Planning and Zoning Commission started a discussion last week about commercial marijuana in the context of local zoning codes.

Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore told the commission that with state marijuana regulations in place, Wrangell has to decide how it wants to deal with commercial pot.

“Right now, if somebody comes forward with a business, the only way Wrangell has to deal with a business is through our current zoning code,” Rushmore said.

State regulations prohibit marijuana businesses within a 500-foot walking distance of churches, schools, jails and parks.

Rushmore prepared maps to show commissioners what that rule looks like in Wrangell.

“Because of where our churches are located, we’re very restricted as to where retail businesses could actually be located,” Rushmore said.

Rushmore said a lot of communities are relying solely on their zoning codes to regulate pot businesses. And she said if commissioners do not want to see commercial pot in certain parts of town, they should make that clear.

“My only concern would be growing within single-family residential [areas],” Commission Chair Terri Henson said. “I suppose as you go out [in rural residential zones] and have the bigger pieces of property, that it would be something to be considered. But I wouldn’t want to see it right in town with single-family residential areas.”

Rushmore said under the current zoning code, license applicants will have to get a conditional use permit from the commission to grow pot commercially in any area of Wrangell.

Rushmore said a few people have talked to her about applying for retail and grow licenses.

Commissioners agreed to hold a workshop before their April 14 meeting to get the public involved in the conversation about zoning for commercial marijuana.

The state plans to issue its first licenses for growing marijuana this summer, and retail licenses will roll out in the fall.