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County Will Write Medical Marijuana Regulations

Daily Dose 2010-12-07 0 comments

By Diane Saunders, published in Eastern Arizona Courier

The sooner elected officials create sound zoning ordinances, the sooner patients can get the safest medicine available on the market. Until then, the danger is not in the drug, but the black market reinforced by a lack of sensible zoning.

When Arizona voters approved legalizing marijuana for medical usage, they also made new zoning regulations in communities and counties a necessity.

“We are looking at putting together some (zoning) regulations,” said Will Wright, director of the Graham County Planning and Zoning Department.

Creating new zoning regulations that fit the requirements of the medical marijuana law is not a quick and easy task. Instead, it is a process that will include public hearings designed to give county residents a chance to offer suggestions or opinions, Wright said.

This public process will also include at least one meeting of the County Planning and Zoning Commission in which commissioners will make a recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors will consider the commission’s recommendation when they vote on the new zoning regulations.

According to Wright, the Planning and Zoning Department will use a model ordinance from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and a similar document from Pima County as a guide for formulating new regulations for Graham County.

The model ordinance from League of Arizona Cities and Towns includes the following:

• Add definitions to existing ordinances. These include definitions for medical marijuana, medical marijuana cultivation, medical marijuana dispensary, medical marijuana infusion and medical marijuana qualifying patients.

• Amend agricultural districts by adding language to allow medical marijuana cultivation as a permitted use, subject to conditions and limitations. These conditions and limitations include the names and locations of offsite medical marijuana dispensaries associated with the cultivation operation; a copy of operating procedures, and a survey showing the location of the nearest medical marijuana dispensary or cultivation site.

• Includes provisions to prohibit marijuana sales near residential properties or schools.