Zoners seek clarity on pot rules

KINGMAN - Residents interested in opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Mohave County will have to wait a bit longer to find out what the rules are.

The Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission continued discussion of a possible zoning ordinance to govern dispensaries to its next meeting on Jan. 26 in order to clarify some legal questions some of the commissioners had.

Arizona voters passed a law allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes in November. The Arizona Department of Health Services is currently working on a set of rules that would govern the sale of medical marijuana. The department released a draft of the rules on Dec. 17. The department has to have the rules in place by the end of March.

A number of local governments, including Mohave County, Lake Havasu City and Kingman, are rushing to get zoning regulations into effect before the new state regulations take effect. The new law does not allow local governments to control the sale of medical marijuana, but it does allow them to regulate through zoning laws where dispensaries can be located.

County staff is recommending allowing 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, or church and any residentially zoned area.

Lake Havasu City's Planning and Zoning Commission recommended Jan. 5 that the city prevent the operation of a medical marijuana business within 500 feet of any church, school, residential zoning boundary and public park and prevent medical marijuana businesses from being located within 1,000 feet of one another. The Lake Havasu City Council is supposed to take up the matter on Jan. 25.

The city of Kingman's Planning and Zoning Commission tabled discussion on the matter Tuesday evening until the state releases a final copy of the rules. The Kingman commission was considering an option that would allow for the cultivation of marijuana only in a rural/residential zoning districts. The area 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. Dispensaries could be no larger than 100 square feet, and sales of marijuana could only take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dispensaries 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.

The County Planning and Zoning Commission will take up the discussion again at 10 a.m. on Jan. 26.