VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 13   |   MARCH 30 – APRIL 5, 2011


Cave Creek to review proposed medical marijuana ordinance

The one-line amendment is in stark contrast to the medical marijuana ordinance recently passed in neighboring Carefree

CAVE CREEK – The planning commission will be holding a special session on Thursday, March 31 to review a proposed amendment to Appendix A of the Cave Creek Zoning Ordinance by adding “State Licensed Medical Marijuana Dispensaries & Cultivation” as a use description under Offices, Services & Research.

marijuana plantThe proposed amendment would permit the use in Commercial Core zoning with a site plan review.

Because town must allow the use somewhere, following direction from council, which indicated a desire for an ordinance with minimal restrictions, staff brought forward a simple amendment dictating where dispensaries may locate, if an applicant seeking to locate in Cave Creek should happen to be selected.

The one-line amendment is in stark contrast to the medical marijuana ordinance recently passed in neighboring Carefree, which regulates not only the zoning district but the type of building, maximum square footage, hours of operation and waste disposal, while prohibiting delivery service and onsite consumption.

Although Carefree’s ordinance allows dispensaries to locate in commercial zoning, it also requires a setback of at least 500 feet from residential/rural properties and schools, and for applicants to provide a survey by a registered land surveyor showing the location of the nearest dispensary, cultivation, infusion or manufacturing facility is not located within 1,320 linear feet of the proposed dispensary facility.

There could be a downside to having an overly restrictive ordinance that discourages applicants from locating in a municipality, as was raised during the Cave Creek direction-seeking agenda item, since, according to state regulations, patients and caregivers may legally cultivate marijuana if they do not reside within 25 miles of a state-licensed dispensary.

Personal cultivation scattered throughout the town would not allow for the same oversight as a single dispensary nor would it provide tax revenue to the town.

Arizona passed its medical marijuana law in November by a razor thin margin of 4,341 votes out of more than 1.67 million votes counted, and recounted, becoming the 15th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. The law will go into effect April 15, 2011.

Arizona also passed a medical marijuana law in 1996. It was never enacted, however, because the law, as it was written, required a doctor’s prescription, in violation of federal law.

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