Medical Marijuana

Owner Mike Richards addresses concerns during the open house for Nature's Healing Center medical marijuana dispensary at the Grace Inn on Monday, May 20, 2013.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

A Superior Court judge has granted medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona more time to get their doors open and keep their certificates awarded by the state.

The law previously required registration certificate holders to get an approval to operate within one year in order to renew their certificates. The deadline for that would have been Aug. 7. The judge ruled that requirement unreasonable.

“Because of today’s ruling, we’re going to accept renewal requests for all the current dispensaries in the state, whether they’re open or not,” said Will Humble, director of the Department of Health Services on his blog. “The initial year for dispensaries is over next week.

“The ruling also means we’ll need to rewrite our rules — but that’s not a simple process. We’ll begin the process of adjusting our regulations to be in accordance with today’s ruling, but it will likely take several months to have everything in line. Today’s ruling will also delay our decision about how to proceed with ‘year 2’ dispensary applications.”

The owners of Nature’s Healing Center, who were part of the plaintiffs in the case, say they are pleased with the judge’s ruling. The injunction allows them the time necessary to work through the city of Phoenix and get Nature’s Healing Center open in Ahwatukee Foothills.

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome today,” said Miranda Armenta, public relations director of Genesis Group, who represents Nature’s Healing Center. “It’s going to provide us some time to work out some of the issues we have in Ahwatukee… It takes several months to work through this and we’re now being allotted that time to do that in. They haven’t put a timeline on it yet.”

Nature’s Healing Center needs several zoning variances in order to open its dispensary at 4902 E. Warner Road. They were denied the variances by a zoning adjustment officer, but will take the case to the city Board of Adjustment to have that decision overturned on Aug. 8.

The dispensary owners were originally scheduled to go before the Board of Adjustment in July, but requested more time to fully investigate claims that the documents they used to receive their certificate from the state were not unaltered. They have investigated those documents and are now confident the documents are valid, said Peter Valenzuela of the Genesis Group.

The Board of Adjustment hearing will take place at noon on Thursday, Aug. 8 in Assembly Room A/B on the first floor of City Hall, 200 W. Washington St.

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