The law makes it legal in Arizona to sell and grow marijuana for medical use and for people with a doctor’s prescription to use the drug. Thursday was the first public hearing to review an ordinance regulating where, when and how medical marijuana dispensaries operate in Tempe.
The council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its next meeting scheduled for Jan. 27.
Many of the medical marijuana advocates took issue with the proposed Tempe ordinance requiring dispensaries be located only in industrial areas and operate only in the daytime.
Aaron Smith of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association argued that the ordinance would stigmatize medical-marijuana dispensaries and the people who depend on them to ease chronic pain.
“We want (dispensaries) to have a patient focus . . . a medical focus. And by pushing these off in industrial zones . . . you’re not going to get the medical-patient focus that you want,” he said.
Mayor Hugh Hallman said he respected Smith and others’ arguments but that Prop. 203 narrowly passed and the council had to consider the split viewpoints on the issue.
Hallman stressed that he and other council members are sympathetic to people who use doctor-prescribed medical marijuana to alleviate pain. He added that several council members have loved ones who have battled cancer, glaucoma or other illnesses that doctors consider marijuana helpful in minimizing suffering.
Smith said Tempe should “implement the law in accordance with the will of the voters and the intent behind the law.
“I would suggest these are medical facilities and should be treated as such. There are no restrictive hour requirements on other medical facilities so I don’t see why we are treating a medical facility differently than we would treat another clinic or medical provider.”
Supporters argued that restricting hours would make it difficult for people who worked days to get to their medication. Councilwoman Shana Ellis suggested they visit dispensaries on the weekends.
Others argued that forcing dispensaries and grow facilities to operate in the same building with only one exit would prove to be a safety hazard.
Hallman said keeping the facilities under one roof with a single exit would enhance security.
via : AZ Central
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