Zoners OK dispensary rules for pot

KINGMAN - After a lengthy discussion and a few comments from the public, the city of Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission agreed on a set of zoning ordinances for medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday evening.

Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in Arizona in November. The Arizona Department of Health Services is expected to finish the rules governing the sale and use of the drug by March 28. Mohave County and the cities of Lake Havasu and Bullhead have already proposed zoning ordinances to determine where dispensaries and grow operations will be allowed within their jurisdictions.

The commission's conversation revolved around whether the hours of operation for dispensaries should be lengthened, if dispensaries and grow operations should be allowed on the same property and if grow operations should be allowed in rural residential areas.

Commissioner Sandi Reynolds said she had heard that the commission could not regulate dispensaries hours of operation.

The draft ordinance the commission had approved last month stated that dispensaries could only be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

City Development Services Director Gary Jeppson said Reynolds probably heard that from the County Attorney's Office. He had checked with the city attorney and was told the city had the authority to regulate hours of operation. The question was, would a person working regular business hours be able to get to a dispensary during those hours, he asked.

Hours of

operation

"When we first started discussing this, I was leaning for more regulation, now I'm leaning for a little less," said Commissioner Scott McCoy. He recommended the commission change the hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

"It's inevitable that were going to get one of these (dispensaries). I don't think having them open six days a week is unreasonable," he said.

Commissioner Kathleen McMurray asked about the possibility of co-locating grow operations and dispensaries on the same property.

Last month's draft required grow operations to be located in rural residential zones and dispensaries in I-1 and I-2 industrial zones with the possibility of a conditional use permit for C-3 commercial zones.

McMurray reminded the commissioners that Kingman Police Chief Robert DeVries told them that he preferred having the grow and dispensary operations on one property. It made it easier to keep track of the medical marijuana trade.

Reynolds pointed out that locating a grow operation and dispensary on the same property would not prevent security issues with the transportation of the drug. Dispensaries are allowed to purchase marijuana from other dispensaries or growers throughout the state.

Resident Mike Bihuniak said he had reservations about locating dispensaries in I-1 and I-2 zones. Many of the city's industrial areas abutted residential areas, for example an area near Castle Rock Road, and he said a dispensary located on one of those properties would be able to meet some of the zoning restriction guidelines the commission was proposing, such as the requirement to be at least 500 feet from a residential zone.

It would be up to the applicant to make sure that they met the restrictions before applying for a permit, Jeppson said.

Resident Harley Pettit encouraged the commission to move medical marijuana outside of the city limits and create a system that would track the sales of marijuana to prevent abuse by patients. He also thought the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours of operation were perfect because most kids were in school during those hours, and a kid hanging around a dispensary during operational hours would draw attention.

According to the initiative approved by voters, the responsibility of tracking marijuana sales falls to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Cultivation

concerns

Pettit also recommended moving grow operations from rural residential areas to agricultural areas.

McCoy agreed with the idea of moving grow operations out of rural residential areas and allowing them to co-locate on the same property as a dispensary.

"I'm not sure we want cultivation in a rural residential area," he said. He asked staff how many rural residential zones were in the city.

Jeppson replied that there were several, and that the largest ones were in the northwest corner of the city and out near Rattlesnake Wash.

McCoy then made a motion to change the hours of operation to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and allow dispensaries and grow operations to locate on the same property. When no one seconded his motion, he asked the other commissioners what concerns they had about it.

Several members of the committee said they disagreed with McCoy's suggested hours.

Commission Chair Matt Ladendecker said he had no problem extending the hours but perhaps 8 p.m. was a bit late.

Commissioner Allen Mossberg suggested since the dispensaries would be open Monday through Saturday, which would allow people access to medical marijuana on the weekend, that the hours could be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

McCoy amended his motion to change the extended hours to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The motion passed unanimously. The issue will be on the April 5 Kingman City Council agenda.