SMITHVILLE, MO (KCTV) -- It's only a matter of time before medical marijuana becomes a reality in Missouri, and cities across the state are preparing for both the revenue and the zoning issues that come with the new cash crop.
The Department of Health and Senior Services, which will begin collecting applications for cannabis dispensaries, processing facilities and growing operations in August, reports that more than 540 applications have been pre-filed for the 338 available licenses across the state.
Those early submissions have already generated more than $3.8 million in revenue in application fees alone.
In Smithville, the city government has already taken active steps to determine where future pot-related businesses might go.
Mayor Damien Boley said the town has zoned off some areas along U.S. Highway 169, a more industrial part of the city. The city council also opted for a 1,000-foot requirement to keep those businesses at a distance from local schools and churches.
"We wanted to ensure that our homes and residential areas' integrity was left intact," Boley said.
But, Smithville doesn't seem to fear new types of treatment -- and industry-- coming to Missouri.
Boley pointed out that Clay County, along with the rest of the state, voted overwhelmingly for the measure that legalized it.
"The most important thing this will bring us is tax revenue," Boley said. "Any new retail is going to bring in new sales tax dollars."
The city recently completed a renovation of its downtown area using sales tax as a funding method. The project expanded sidewalks, inviting pedestrians to enjoy local businesses and the farmer's market downtown.
Betty and Gary Small set up a booth of fabric crafts every Wednesday night. Both of them expressed hope that marijuana could bring relief to patients with chronic pain and especially PTSD, though neither of them were interested in using the drug personally.
"It's time for it, it really is," Betty said.
"It's not 1950 anymore," her husband added. "It's time to go into the future and stop living under a rock."
Others in Smithville are reluctant to accept pot in their hometown.
Angie Viebrock, who identified herself as a local teacher, had concerns about whether more young people would have access to the drug as a result of the state's new law.
"Sometimes I think it's a gateway drug," she said.
It may not matter whether towns want cannabis-related business or not.
Jack Mitchell, who is on the board of directors for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Association, said cities are mandated to allow dispensaries and other operations in accordance with state law. They can, like Smithville, regulate zoning.
Mitchell is also an investor and is putting together applications for businesses in the Kansas City metro area. He said Smithville is one of the locations he is eyeing.
"You have a major arterial off 169 so you'd expect to have something in the Smithville area," he said.
Other municipalities are preparing for pot and the zoning questions that come with it.
On the day KCTV5 visited Smithville, the town was hosting a group of city clerks from around the region for a monthly meeting. Their session included a workshop on cannabis regulations.
Boley acknowledged that perceptions of the drug had changed in recent years.
"Medical marijuana is going to be heavily regulated, very controlled," he said, referring to the state law.
In his town, people are cautiously ready to embrace the industry and the treatments it offers. Like the Smalls, they see opportunity.
"There are some people out there who it cures their aches and pains and PTSD," Betty said.