Ahwatukee Foothills planners will host a public meeting Monday, Oct. 25, to consider where medical marijuana dispensaries should be allowed to operate if voters approve Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, on Nov. 2.
The Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee meeting is slated for 6 p.m. at the Pecos Community Center, 17010 S. 48th St.
Debra Stark, Phoenix's planning director, said similar meetings are going on throughout the city this month. With recent opinion polls placing voter support for Prop. 203 at more than 50 percent, the aim of the meetings is to develop criteria for where medical marijuana dispensaries can be located.
"What we're looking at is; what is the logical zoning for it to be in?" Stark said.
If voters approve the law, it would allow patients with debilitating diseases to obtain marijuana from licensed non-profit dispensaries. Patients who would qualify for medical marijuana include those that have been diagnosed with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Qualified patients would be able to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in a 14-day period. If the patient's home is located more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary, the patient or designated caregiver would be able to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility.
The law also would prohibit employers from refusing to hire a patient who legitimately uses medical marijuana, or from penalizing patients for a positive drug test, unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the employment premises or during hours of employment, according to DHS.
However, marijuana would still be prohibited on school buses, on school grounds and in jails. Patients also would not be allowed to operate vehicles while under the influence of marijuana, according to DHS.
Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, whose district includes Ahwatukee Foothills, said he personally opposes Prop. 203, but nevertheless, he expects it to pass.
"Whether you agree with it or not, the voters will end up making that decision," he said. "I don't think it makes Arizona look good. I don't want Arizona known as the marijuana state."
If it does pass, dispensaries should be limited to industrial-type areas or zoning districts with heavy commercial uses, neither of which are common in Ahwatukee, he said.
"I think you have to be extremely cautious," DiCiccio said. "I think the first thing you would do is look at what the alcohol restrictions are and create a model around that."