Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee members discuss P
Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee members Monday evening debated how to regulate where medical marijuana dispensaries could be located if Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative, is approved in the Nov. 2 election. Ari Cohn/AFN

The issue of where to put medical marijuana dispensaries proved so divisive for the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee Monday night that it produced three votes that failed on 7-7 ties.

"I have never seen a tie vote and I've been on this committee since 1993," said Doug Cole, the committee's chairman. "It's interesting to show where the public is on this issue."

The issue now will go forward to the Phoenix Planning Commission without any recommendation from Ahwatukee Foothills planners.

Such meetings are ongoing across the city as planners attempt to develop guidelines to regulate where to put licensed non-profit dispensaries, which could include grow space for up to 12 marijuana plants in a secured facility, if Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative, passes on Nov. 2.

Ahwatukee's planning committee discussed several possible restrictions. The initiative states that one dispensary may be built per 10 pharmacies, with an estimated 120 dispensaries possible throughout the state, according to planners.

The committee's first unsuccessful vote entailed simply endorsing the existing text of the initiative without further comment.

"They've vetted this pretty well through the ballot initiative and I don't think we should be adding any layers to it," committee member Max Masel said.

That vote failed on a 7-7 tie.

The second vote involved requiring dispensaries to receive a special permit from the city before being allowed to open. The process is intended to give planners some say in each dispensary application, according to proponents.

"Why would we not want to examine something? I don't see why we wouldn't want to have a say as to where each of these is going to go," committee member Brian Symes said.

It, too, failed on a tie vote.

The final vote, to restrict dispensaries to commercially-zoned areas only and to exclude them from residential areas, also failed on a tie vote. That means the proposal moves forward to the Phoenix Planning Commission without any input or endorsement from Ahwatukee.

"I think the planner can relate to the Planning Commission where we are on this, and that is - divided," Cole said.

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