County pot law proposal up for review today

KINGMAN - The County Board of Supervisors will take up the issue of medical marijuana Monday. The County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved an amendment to the county's zoning ordinance Jan. 26 governing where marijuana dispensaries can be located within the unincorporated areas of the county.

The proposed county ordinance would allow dispensaries and cultivation buildings to operate in any area where a drug store could be located, except for neighborhood commercial zones, and all dispensaries must be at least 2,000 feet from another dispensary and 1,000 feet from a school, school bus stop, childcare center, library, public park, church, and any residentially zoned area.

A copy of the county ordinance can be found on the county website at www.co.mohave.az.us. Click on the "Departments" tab, then on "Development Services," and then on "Planning and Zoning Commission."

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "meetings for 2011" and look for the agenda book for Jan. 12 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is in charge of creating the rules that will govern the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries and the issuance of medical marijuana cards to patients. The department released one draft of the proposed rules in December and a revised draft at the end of January. A copy of the draft rules can be found at www.azdhs.gov. The department is accepting comments online until Feb. 18.

Proposition 203, which was approved by voters in November and authorizes the use of medical marijuana in the state, requires that all dispensaries be non-profit organizations.

The city of Kingman Planning and Zoning commission is considering an option that would limit dispensaries to 100 square feet in size and sales of marijuana to between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The city's ordinance would allow for the cultivation of marijuana only in a rural/residential zoning districts and would have to be at least 2,500 feet from any alternative residential zoning. Dispensaries would only be allowed in I-2, heavy industrial zoning areas in Kingman and would have to be at least 2,500 feet from any school, place of worship, public park, mental health facility or substance abuse rehabilitation center. It would also have to be at least 2,500 feet from any residentially zoned area. Kingman's commission tabled discussion on the matter on Jan. 11 until the state releases a final copy of the rules.

Lake Havasu City Council also unanimously adopted its zoning ordinance for marijuana dispensaries Tuesday evening. Havasu's ordinance prevents the operation of dispensaries within 500 feet of any church, residentially zoned area or public park. It also prevents dispensaries from being within 1,000 feet of one another. Council added a requirement that dispensaries could not be within 1,000 feet of any schools.

Bullhead City staff is still working on a series of proposals to regulate dispensaries in their community. The city's council and planning and zoning commission is considering an ordinance that would require dispensaries to be located in commercial business districts and at least 500 feet from any nearby schools. The commission is hoping to have a draft of the ordinance in place before its March 3 meetings.