Phoenix Council Approves Tougher Marijuana Zoning Rules

Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 9:41pm
Updated: Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 9:08am
(Photo by Stina Seig - KJZZ)
Medical marijuana.

New zoning regulations aimed at the marijuana industry are expected to take effect later this week. The changes come after council members unanimously approved tougher rules using an emergency clause during Wednesday's meeting.

Three main issues sparked Phoenix’s move to limit where new dispensaries and cultivation centers can operate. The first two deal with state law. One section allows dispensaries to move around once they’ve been in business three years.

Another section calls for more dispensary licenses to be issued as more pharmacies open across the state. Planning and Zoning Director Alan Stephenson said the state expects to issue about 30 new licenses this summer. Right now, there are 99 dispensaries across Arizona and about 30 in Phoenix.

“We can’t use our zoning authority to zone them out of existence, but we are making it so there places for them to locate, albeit it difficult for them to find, it is in areas that are appropriate from our community’s standpoint of where they should locate," Stephenson told council members.

The last big reason for tighter rules centers on a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. If it makes it on the November ballot and voters approve, current medical dispensaries would be allowed to change to recreational dispensaries. 

The emergency clause allows the changes to take effect immediately after Mayor Greg Stanton signs the paperwork.