Phoenix Approves Bigger Size For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 8:25am
Updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 1:16pm

Medical marijuana at Giving Tree
Stina Sieg/KJZZ
Medical marijuana at Giving Tree Dispensary in Phoenix.

Some medical marijuana dispensaries in Phoenix could more than double in size.

In December 2012, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 35,641people with active medical marijuana cards. In September 2020, the department reported 289,195 cardholders

During Wednesday’s Phoenix City Council Meeting, Alan Stephenson, the city’s planning and development director, said dispensaries are currently limited to 2,000 square feet.   

“That 2,000 square feet includes all their storage areas, retail, office space, patient lobby, check in, bathrooms, mechanical rooms, hallways, etc.,” he said.

Compared to other cities across the Valley, Phoenix dispensaries are the smallest. According to a staff report, Chandler and Mesa limit dispensaries to 2,500 square feet. Gilbert’s limit is 3,000 square feet, Tempe is 5,000 and Glendale is 6,000. Peoria and Scottsdale have no maximum size limit. 

“If the city of Phoenix was writing every zoning code to merely meet the criteria of other municipalities, Phoenix would not need a zoning code or zoning regulation, we’d just do what everybody else does,” said Wally Graham with the Arcadia Osborn Neighborhood Association. 

Graham spoke in opposition along with resident Neal Haddad who asked the council to create a task force to study not only medical marijuana dispensaries but also research retail locations for recreational marijuana since it appears voters have approved Proposition 207. The measure would legalize possession and use of marijuana for people 21 and older.

Councilwoman Thelda Williams said the size issue for medical marijuana dispensaries has been under discussion for months and made a motion to approve staff’s request to increase the maximum size from 2,000 square feet to 5,000. Councilman Jim Waring was the only no vote.

In 30 days, dispensaries that want to expand can apply for a permit.

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