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5:36 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

PV Town Council advances medical marijuana ordinance

PRESCOTT VALLEY - The Town Council unanimously voted Thursday to advance an ordinance to regulate the growing and selling of medical marijuana in the town.

The ordinance restricts dispensaries and cultivation facilities to commercially zoned property and requires them to be at least 500 feet from each other and from schools, churches, parks, community centers, halfway houses and other places.

It also limits dispensaries to 1,000 square feet of floor space and cultivation facilities to 3,000 square feet. However, applicants may seek conditional use permits if they want to operate in larger buildings.

The ordinance underwent the first reading of the council Thursday, and will face its second reading and final adoption Feb. 10. It will go into effect 30 days later, Community Development Director Richard Parker said after the council deliberations.

Parker fine-tuned the ordinance after two meetings of the Planning and Zoning Commission in which several people with an interest in medical marijuana spoke out. The commission, which recommended approval of the ordinance Jan. 10, dealt with it in the first place because Arizona voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act on Nov. 2.

The state law is "very stringent," Parker told the council. Among other things, it requires medical marijuana patients to obtain certification from doctors. He said the new ordinance "kind of came from the middle of the road." He added he has met with at least 60 people.

Taking the middle ground is a "wise choice," Councilman Mike Flannery said.

Parker said, "The planning commission really thought this through."

Vice Mayor Rick Anderson and Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye acknowledged the task of crafting the ordinance might not have been popular with staff.

"This is something we never wanted to deal with," Nye said. She referred to problems with state laws allowing medical marijuana in California and Colorado.

The work of Parker's staff drew praise from Adam Trenk, a law clerk with the Rose Law Group in Scottsdale who spoke out at the two P&Z meetings and wrote letters to Parker suggesting wording in the ordinance.

Councilwoman Fran Schumacher did not attend the meeting.