Medical marijuana dispensaries are close to opening in Marana and Oro Valley since both municipalities have given the go-ahead to let them operate.
There are currently three dispensaries in the city of Tucson.
On March 27, Oro Valley issued a business license for Catalina Hills Botanical Care, 12152 N. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. That follows the Marana Planning Commission's January approval of Nature Med, a 6,220-square-foot facility with on-site cultivation at 5390 W. Ina Road. The business will request a conditional use permit from the commission April 24.
Both facilities await state approval before they can open and begin selling marijuana to card-holding patients.
"The process with the state isn't tied to our process," Oro Valley spokeswoman Misti Nowak said by email, adding that the processes can run concurrently and that the dispensary would have to pass town inspections before receiving a certificate of occupancy.
In 2010, Arizona voters approved a proposition that legalized medical marijuana use.
The Arizona Department of Health Services says dispensaries must use exterior lighting, surveillance cameras and security equipment to restrict access to certain areas.
ADHS spokeswoman Carol Vack said neither business has applied for approval to operate.
After they apply, ADHS representatives will check the dispensaries' security measures and policies before granting them approval to operate.
Neither business seems to be causing many ripples in their respective communities.
"No one has come forward to complain about the proposed Ina Road dispensary," Marana spokesman Rodney Campbell said. "It's an industrial area that doesn't have many homes."
Dave Perry of the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce said he's open to the possibility of Catalina Hills joining his group.
"I don't see any reason we would not have them as a member," he said. "It's a legitimate business and a legal operation."
Oro Valley Town Council member Joe Hornat said he's ambivalent about having medical pot for sale in the town.
"I just don't know. I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude," he said. "If there are problems with it, I'm sure there will be solutions offered. If it truly is what it says it is, then I suppose it will be OK."
Did you know?
Patients can qualify for marijuana registry identification cards on the Arizona Department of Health Services website (www.azdhs.gov).
Patients who have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition can submit written certification from their doctor. Approved applicants receive a registry identification card that allows them to use marijuana. The card costs $150. Qualifying debilitating illnesses include HIV, AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, hepatitis C, ALS and other ailments.
Names of cardholders are confidential. Qualified patients can possess as much as 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana or 12 marijuana plants. Patients may not consume medical marijuana at a dispensary, and may not smoke medical marijuana in public.
According to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, employers may not penalize qualified, cardholding patients for positive marijuana drug tests. Employees, though, are not protected from discipline for possession of or being impaired by the drug during work hours.
Qualified patients who live more than 24 miles from a dispensary are allowed to grow marijuana in an enclosed, locked facility.
Patients who have already qualified for registry identification cards when a new dispensary opens within 25 miles of their homes can continue to cultivate. When those patients renew their cards, they'll lose those privileges.
Source: Arizona Department of Health Services
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org