- Jan 1, 2005
- Interesting Thoughts on the Medical Cannabis in Arizona.
Medical marijuana means no background checks for qualifying patients
CAVE CREEK – Monday’s council meeting began with Madelyn Hines ®, owner of the Town Dump, who, during Call to the Public, expressed her displeasure with the classic car event that brought bumper-to-bumper traffic throughout town all day Saturday.
Hines said she has been a Cave Creek resident for over 40 years, has owned her business for 30 years and because of the auto show, which resulted in cars blocking her right of way all day, her business was down $2,000.
“I’m not happy,” said Hines, who told council, “Saturday is an important sales day.”
She suggested events of that nature be held in June, July or August and to require putting up barriers that don’t allow people to park in her right-of-way.
Hines also questioned the town-incurred expense for additional law enforcement, while holding an event that harms the very businesses that provide tax revenue to the town.
Town Attorney Marlene Pontrelli told council the Medical Marijuana ordinance had been amended since the first reading to incorporate comments made by council during the first reading.
She said she has since read the entire 92 pages of regulations published by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and stated the town’s ordinance is not a substitute for state statute but rather a supplement.
She prepared a PowerPoint presentation that provided an overview of the law, regulations and why the town’s zoning ordinance, which incorporates the use in Commercial Core and General Commercial zoning districts and how the town’s medical marijuana ordinance supplements the law.
In reviewing the timeline, Pontrelli pointed out ADHS has already begun accepting applications for qualified patients and caregivers.
It will accept applications for initial dispensary registration certificates during the month of June and will select and award dispensary registration certificates in August.
ADHS will accept petitions for additional debilitating medical conditions in January 2012.
Currently, a person must have a qualifying condition approved by the ADHS and listed under A.R.S. § 36-2801.01 and R9-17-106 in order to qualify as a medical marijuana patient.
Pontrelli explained ADHS is responsible for issuing registry identification cards or certificates for qualifying patients, designated caregivers, dispensaries, dispensary agents.
State law prohibits qualifying patients (QP) from cultivating marijuana for their own use if they live within 25 miles of a dispensary.
However, Pontrelli said the ordinance would add a section that would also prohibit a designated caregiver (DC) from cultivating marijuana unless sufficient evidence exists that the DC is also located more than 25 miles from a medical marijuana dispensary in the state of Arizona.
State law only addresses where the QP lives, not the DC, and without this section, Pontrelli illustrated if there were a number of DCs living in Cave Creek who each had QPs living more than 25 miles from a dispensary, each DC would be able to cultivate up to 72 marijuana plants even if the DC lived next door to a dispensary.
The ordinance was changed since the first reading to decrease the distance for dispensaries from an existing residential structure, child care facility, church, synagogue, temple or other religious worship building, public park, library, museum, or publicly owned community building, from 200 feet to 100 feet.
Planning Director Ian Cordwell provided maps showing where a dispensary would be able to locate using the 100-foot setback and by adding the use to General Commercial.
Statute already prohibits locating dispensaries within 500 feet of schools.
After Pontrelli completed her presentation, Vice Mayor Ernie Bunch (l) said it appeared ADHS required background checks for DCs, dispensary and cultivation licensees but were not required for QPs to cultivate.
Pontrelli said that was correct.
Bunch said, “Wow! That’s huge.”
During public comment, Rudy Dragone (below), owner of Clark’s Pharmacy in Carefree said he thought medical marijuana was a good thing if done correctly and saw the benefit for a number of ailments.
However, he said his biggest fear is that the law is going to be abused like it is in California and Colorado and suggested requiring 24-hour surveillance video at cultivation sites.
As a pharmacist, he said he must be able to answer patients’ concerns about interactions between various prescription drugs. Now there will be questions about something which he has no control over.
When he attended the medical marijuana seminar at ASU he suggested it be under the regulation of pharmacists with doctors involved.
Pricilla Wolf said there should be supervision but stated, “I want to calm your concerns. I don’t think it will get out of control like California and Montana.”
Planning Commissioner Ted Bryda said when the planning commission approved the ordinance the setback was at 200 feet. He asked how it came to be 100.
Pontrelli said the planning commission is only a recommending body and council is free to change that recommendation.
When Bryda asked if council knew about the change, Pontrelli responded, “Yes.”
With councilmen Dick Esser and Adam Trenk absent, council voted 5-0 to pass both the zoning ordinance and town code ordinance with respect to medical marijuana.
Bunch commented, “I think we should do anything we can to get a dispensary,” pointing out a dispensary would make many of the other issues go away.
Councilman Ralph Mozilo said he didn’t see the town having any options other than passing the ordinance, although he didn’t see the ordinance being enforceable with the town’s complaint-driven system.
Mayor Vincent Francia said a citizens’ initiative became law but adding an adjective before marijuana doesn’t change anything.
Council also unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the town to approve an amended agreement with T-Mobile.
The agreement was required in conjunction with the next agenda item, also unanimously approved, to authorize the expenditure of $1.1 million in town funds for Cave Creek Road and Carefree Highway intersection improvements, funded by a $630,000 grant from Maricopa County Department of Transportation and a portion of the approximately $557,000 in traffic improvement development fees paid to the town by Walmart.
Town Engineer Wayne Anderson said the project, which consists of doubling the left turn lanes east to north and north to west, would probably begin in about a month and should be completed in six months or less
- By Linda Bentley | April 20, 2011