Marijuana dispensary wants to open across from Soulard charter school

City will hold a public hearing on Thursday
An application has been submitted to open up a dispensary right across the street from Lift for Life Academy in Soulard.
Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 10:59 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - An application has been submitted to open up a dispensary right across the street from Lift for Life Academy in Soulard, leaving school leaders and parents upset about the idea.

Plans for the dispensary include a drive-thru and walk-up window, according to a sign reminding the public of Thursday’s conditional hearing.

“I don’t want the kids to be in school stoned when they should be getting an education,” said Candice Johnson. “A lot of the kids are already influenced by gangs, drugs, and to have it right across the street from their education, the school?”

Johnson has a 16-year-old son who goes to Lift for Life.

School leaders say the owner of the Old Jimmy John’s on South Broadway wants to transform the old sub shop into a weed shop. School leaders and Johnson wants the idea to be put out.

“To have this is like a slap in the face to the community,” said Marshall Cohen, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Lift for Life -- he says it’s about students’ access to drugs.

“This is about the kids,” he said. “The kids are sacred. We have to protect the kids and give them the best choices and paths in life.”

Missouri law, marijuana facilities can’t open within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center or church. However, local governments can make exceptions.

Dr. Katrice Noble is the deputy director at the school. She says when she learned about the idea – she was appalled!

“I don’t think dispensaries are bad; I think the location of this particular dispensary is bad,” said Dr. Noble. “What I do have a problem with is a dispensary being right next door, 100 feet from a school serving 900+ students. That’s where the problem lies.”

Cohen and Dr. Noble argue this idea would never happen in other neighborhoods.

“This would never happen in Clayton, Rockwood, Fort Zumwalt or Parkway. Never,” said Cohen.

“We serve almost 98% African American kids and put a dispensary right next to where they are educated; that’s what makes it a race thing for me,” said Dr. Noble.

However, there are some who say dispensaries should be treated like any other drug store.

“Honestly, I don’t see a problem with it,” said Harry Donovan. “If laws are held to the way they were written, couple that with the children’s education, I just don’t see a problem with it.

Johnson and other school leaders will be at Thursday’s meeting with the city’s zoning division and plans on be loud about their displeasure.

“I will be very vocal. And I will be reaching out to Mayor Jones to make sure she’s aware of it as well as the governor.” Said Johnson.