The issue of where medical marijuana should be grown, processed and sold heads to the Phoenix City Council Wednesday.

The current proposal calls for restricting dispensaries to commercially zoned property at least 250 feet away from residential areas; 1,320 feet from schools, parks and public community centers; and 500 feet from houses of worship. Dispensaries would have to be at least a mile apart from each other, could not have drive-thru service, and would be limited to the operating hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Growing and processing facilities would be confined to areas zoned for agricultural and industrial uses, respectively, with similar distance restrictions in mind, albeit with the residential distance requirement increased to 1,000 feet.

Debra Stark, Phoenix's director of planning and development, said Ahwatukee Foothills likely would not have any growing or processing facilities because there is no land here zoned for agriculture or industry. It is possible the area could get dispensaries, however, she said.

Max Masel, an Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee member, said he doesn't believe the city should require each medical marijuana facility to obtain a permit to operate.

"Otherwise, every case is going to be political," he said.

John Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, said the city's proposed guidelines seem reasonable and responsible.

"Those of us involved in the drafting of this initiative called for reasonable zoning restrictions," he said.

Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative, approved by a statewide vote last month, opened the door for about 120 dispensaries in Arizona, one per every 10 pharmacies.

(1) comment


There is so much debate about prop 203 dispensaries. Yet, there is very little talk about the potential for these businesses to give back to the communities in which they operate.

The anticipated revenue numbers are very impressive, and these non-profits have the potential to make some very large donations on a regular basis.

Have any of the dispensary opponents thought about learning a little more about how these businesses are going to donate to the community? Maybe they feel it's best to just puff their chests at the "dispensary beasts".

I cannot speak for would be dispensary owners, but one would assume that the localities and organizations that were involved in hampering or jeopardizing their efforts to help chronically ill patients are probably not going to be at the top of the list when it comes time for philanthropy. Maybe the dispensaries will be so jaded by the whole process that they decide donate 100% outside of Arizona, just a thought.

MMJ Consulting Arizona

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