City Working on How To Handle Pot Dispensaries
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City Working on How To Handle Pot Dispensaries
Posted by CN Staff on January 04, 2011 at 11:24:59 PT
By Brett Fera, Managing Editor
Source: Tri-Valley Dispatch
Maricopa, AZ -- On the heels of Arizona voters narrowly voting in favor of proposition 203 – a measure to allow for the growth, sale and use of medical marijuana statewide – during the recent November election, Maricopa’s City Council recently discussed how it might handle the likely prospect of legal marijuana dispensaries popping up in and around the city itself.While the item was not up for vote – only discussion – at the council’s Dec. 21 meeting, city planning manager Kazi Haque presented the mayor and council with the outline of a possible zoning code for facilities that intend to distribute legalized marijuana.
Explaining that 14 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have enacted laws legalizing medical Marijuana, Haque explained the proposed zoning ordinance, which included multiple provisions regarding where and how a dispensary may operate. According to the proposed ordinance, dispensaries must be no larger than 2,500 square feet with no more than 500 square feet of storage space within and cannot be located within 2,400 feet of similar dispensaries, rehabilitation centers, group homes, or other treatment facilities.Dispensaries also can’t be within 500 feet of residential property, 1,500 feet of a school, place of worship, public park or library, and must be located in a permanent building. Other provisions on what hours a facility can operate, as well as the prohibition of on-site marijuana cultivation, were also included.While Maricopa’s proposed ordinance appeared slightly more stringent than each of the dozen-or-so cities, towns or counties City of Maricopa staff studied, Haque explained that local communities are allowed to establish their own zoning regulations, and can adopt “reasonable” restrictions as they see fit.“It’s not one size fits all. Every city has to look at their own size,” he added, noting that Maricopa and Phoenix, because of their sizes and structures, would likely have differing regulations.While the initial proposal had dates of Jan. 10 and 24 for the city’s planning and zoning commission to hear and take action on a recommendation, and a Feb. 15 date for the council to take action and vote on adopting an ordinance, vice mayor Ed Farrell stressed that Maricopa might be smart to exercise the full 120 days – through April – before the state mandates it to have regulations in place.“Let’s not make the mistake by acting too quickly, but let’s ease into it,” Mayor Anthony Smith said in agreement. “As long as we meet the timeline framework … but not take as aggressive action where after 30 days, or six months, we change the ordinance again.”The issue of crime following dispensaries into a local brought forth a thorough discussion between the council and Police Chief Kirk Fitch.“No matter where you have these, you’re going to have an increase in crime. That’s just a fact,” Fitch explained. “We probably will have people being able to grow it on their property, and all these scenarios lead to other scenarios as far as crime goes.”Fitch added that dispensaries presumably would carry large amounts of cash on site – with employees potentially armed themselves – leading to a greater possibility of attempted robberies.Haque explained to the council that it’s possible Maricopa might have only one – if any – approved dispensaries, especially considering the strict ordinance recommendations. That couples with the fact that through the approval of Proposition 203, only 124 such facilities will be permitted statewide.In some circumstances, however, the passage of Proposition 203 does allow for a person to grow marijuana on their own property for medicinal purposes if they live more than 25 miles from a dispensary.Council member Alan Marchione, agreeing with his colleagues suggestion of taking their time before making a decision on the ordinance, said that he’d like to see the council discuss the issue in a work session before eventually bringing it up for vote.Source: Tri-Valley Dispatch (AZ)Author: Brett Fera, Managing EditorPublished: January 4, 2011Copyright: 2011 Casa Grande Valley Newspapers, Inc.Contact: dkramerjr Website: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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