Medical marijuana

Youngtown is one of many Valley municipalities cultivating rules and regulations about medical marijuana dispensaries.

Arizona voters approved the use of medical marijuana during balloting Nov. 2, making Arizona the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana.

Youngtown officials are in the process of vetting zoning changes to the town code that will restrict where dispensaries can operate and who is allowed to prescribe the medicine.

Town Manager Lloyce Robinson said she and other town officials are formulating the parameters the town council will approve in late January.

However, those hoping to get into the medical-marijuana business will also have to comply with rules being formulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services, which dictates who can prescribe and receive a prescription for medical marijuana and how to ensure facilities are secure.

Robinson and Deputy Town Clerk Diane Cordova led a citizen’s review meeting Monday, allowing interested residents to get information on setting up their own dispensaries. No residents attended the meeting.

However, Robinson said Wally Simmons, owner of Women’s International Pharmacy, 12012 N. 111th Ave., has expressed interest in opening a medical-marijuana dispensary.

Simmons, who was traveling on business, could not be reached by telephone.

In addition to the overhead costs to start a medical-marijuana shop, Robinson said business owners must pay a $300 annual medical-marijuana dispensary fee. They must also pay a $300 annual cultivation, infusion or manufacturing facility fee, although grow facilities will only be allowed in heavy industrial or agriculturally zoned areas, which does not include Youngtown.

Youngtown will allow dispensaries to operate in a C-2 commercial district, which includes strip malls and commercial retail centers. This covers many of the city’s major intersections and streets.

That doesn’t mean every neighborhood shopping center will be overrun with medical-marijuana facilities.

The state has put a limit on dispensaries allowed in Arizona. The rules developed by the Arizona Department of Health Services allow one dispensary for every 10 pharmacies, meaning Arizona will have about 125 dispensaries statewide.

In Youngtown, a medical-marijuana dispensary may only be open for business between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Operators would be committing a Class 1 misdemeanor if they opened a shop within 1,000 feet of a worship facility; public or private schools, including childcare facilities; residential areas; public parks; businesses catered toward families; and another medical-marijuana dispensary.

Anyone found guilty of violating provisions of Youngtown’s medical-marijuana ordinance could be subject to a fine not to exceed $2,500 and/or imprisonment for a period not to exceed six months.

Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or

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