|Weed growers get fair shake|
|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Saturday, 05 March 2011 00:00|
Medical marijuana dispensaries, home-grow operations and cultivating caregivers operate legal businesses and should be treated the same as any other Clarkdale commercial enterprise, Clarkdale Town Councilman Bill Regner said.
“In the spirit of how we are approaching this as a legitimate business, we shouldn’t be putting restrictions on activity that might occur in any other business,” Regner said.
Regner objected to a portion of the town’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance that would have prohibited consumption of alcohol where marijuana is dispensed, grown or processed.
Town attorney Jonathan Miller, who drafted the ordinance, said the provision was consistent with ordinances under consideration by several other Arizona cities and towns.
“The purpose is to keep marijuana and alcohol consumption separate,” Miller said.
After applying the same measuring rod to several other sections of the proposal, council voted unanimously Feb. 22 to delay a final vote approving the medical marijuana ordinance until Tuesday, March 8. The delay will give Miller time to make changes to the law requested by council.
Cultivating caregivers, people licensed by the state to buy and dispense marijuana to patients, raised the greatest concern because the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act fails to specify when and where they can grow, Miller said.
The law is clear on when patients can grow in their own homes: If certified patients live more than 25 miles from a dispensary, they may grow their own medicine. The question Clarkdale’s ordinance tries to resolve is whether a caregiver can grow medicine within 25 miles of a dispensary for patients who live beyond the 25-mile threshold.
In Clarkdale, caregivers will be required to apply for home occupancy business licenses and conditional use permits in order to operate, according to the draft ordinance.
The process would require caregivers to apply for a home occupancy license at Town Hall and request a conditional use permit, which would first be submitted to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission for review. The commission would make its recommendation and council would have final say on whether the permit could be issued.
As part of the permitting process, the ordinance would require caregivers to take several steps to secure their business/residence.
“These are common sense rules to minimize the impact of a commercial operation in a private neighborhood,” Mayor Doug Von Gausig said.
Medical marijuana would have to be stored in a separate, locked building on the property. Ventilation and special waste disposal procedures would be required to avoid exposing neighbors to the aroma and by-products of medical marijuana cultivation.
The process would also give residents two forums to object to a conditional use permit, one before the Planning and Zoning Commission, the other before Clarkdale Town Council.
The ordinance would prohibit the establishment of medical marijuana infusion operations except in areas of the town zoned for industrial use. Fusion operations combine the medicine with edible products like brownies.
Medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed in Clarkdale districts zoned for commercial use, according to the draft law.