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BELGRADE - The Belgrade City Council has passed a six-month moratorium on commercial medical marijuana growers to give city staff time to write a zoning ordinance for such shops.

Meanwhile, the city of Columbia Falls last week decided it can manage medical marijuana shops as retail businesses under current zoning codes. City Manager Bill Shaw says a legal business should not be hindered.

In Belgrade, the council is leaning toward banning commercial growers from residential neighborhoods and creating a buffer for schools, churches and parks, as has been done with bars and casinos.

City Attorney Rick Ramley says under current rules, commercial operations of any kind need a business license and cannot operate in residential areas.

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