City panel proposes medical marijuana deliveries

2014-07-17T18:00:00Z 2014-07-18T10:00:37Z City panel proposes medical marijuana deliveriesBy Darren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Someday soon, pot, like pizza, could be delivered to your front door.

The Tucson Planning Commission recommended the City Council adopt a rule allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to deliver to hospices, nursing homes and medical marijuana cardholders’ homes.

The commission also recommended lifting the 3,000-square-foot limit on cultivation sites in industrial areas, as well as allowing marijuana infused products to be made at dispensaries and cultivation sites and extending dispensaries’ hours of operation to midnight.

Current rules mandate dispensaries can be open only from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The proposed change would allow them to run from 7 a.m. to midnight.

The commission’s recommendations were broader than what the council initially asked for in April, when council members sought input on whether or not the city should dump its 3,000-square-foot cap on cultivation sites to make Tucson more competitive with other cities.

The commission offered no recommendation on how much larger cultivation sites should be, saying that is a decision best left to the council.

The commission also said the city should scrap a requirement that cultivation sites in industrial zones be set back 500 feet from churches, libraries, day-care centers and substance-abuse clinics. In accordance with state law, a 500-foot setback from schools would remain.

The body recommended no changes to cultivation site regulations in commercial zones — of which there are currently none in Tucson.

If adopted by the council, it would mark a significant overhaul to existing rules.

But commission members felt it was time to ease some restrictions.

“It’s a legal use that’s been approved by voters and sanctioned by the state,” said Planning Commission member Peter Gavin. “Marijuana is legal and, just like Walgreens, they should be able to provide that to qualified recipients.”

Some on the council agree.

“There’s a cultural mind-shift going on. Marijuana’s not the evil, devil weed we were taught in elementary school,” said Councilman Steve Kozachik. “There’s a legitimate medical use for it, and I hope the council passes these reasonable accommodations.”

Councilman Paul Cunningham, who brought lifting the 3,000-square-foot discussion to the council, said the commission’s recommendations are a good start.

“It’s a good step in making us competitive with other cities in this emerging market,” Cunningham said. “But I think there are some things that will need to be worked out with neighborhood groups and others before anything is settled on.”

The council will discuss the changes at its August meeting.

Jim Mazzocco, planning administrator at the city’s Planning and Development Services Department, said the council can decide at that time if it wants any or all of the commission’s recommendations included in a final draft.

That final draft would likely be ready in September, at which time the council could vote on it or call for a new public hearing on the revisions, Mazzocco said.

Tucson has two approved cultivation sites: one near Aviation Parkway and Palo Verde Road and a second near Interstate 10 and Kolb Road.

The city has eight marijuana dispensaries.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com. Follow on Twitter @DarrenDaRonco

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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