Marana has further tightened its medical marijuana ordinance, adopting language that would prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries or marijuana growing facilities within 1,000 feet of a business "devoted to family recreation or entertainment."

The council wants to keep any medical marijuana business away from establishments such as Breakers Water Park, the bowling facility Bedroxx and the gaming and eatery business Monkey Business, members said at the Oct. 19 council meeting.

Previously, the Marana ordinance banned medical marijuana from within 1,000 feet of a school, child care center, library, park or church. It further restricts zones within which medical marijuana could be dispensed, and limits the number of medical marijuana businesses within the town limits to two.

For the second time, the council labored over the medical marijuana ordinance urged by Town Attorney Frank Cassidy ahead of the Nov. 2 state vote concerning medical marijuana, Proposition 203.

"I hope this is all for naught, and that it doesn't pass," Mayor Ed Honea said.

In late September, the ordinance went before the Marana Planning Commission, which recommended a maximum of two dispensaries in Marana if Prop 203 passes. That figure was derived from the ballot proposal, which sets a limit on the total dispensaries in Arizona. Staff and planners used Arizona's population estimate, divided it by the total maximum dispensaries, and arrived at the figure.

"To avoid any issues about competition, we put a maximum of two dispensaries" in the ordinance, Cassidy said. The number could increase to three when Marana reaches more than 80,000 residents.

"That was a very good catch by the planning commission," Cassidy said.

Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall has asked local governments to make reference that "anyone operating one of these kinds of facilities has to prove they meet the qualifications" in the county's newly adopted health regulations.

"I think it's a good idea," Cassidy told the council, because the county's regulations "bring the language into alignment with the federal Controlled Substance Act" by requiring an operator to be properly licensed.

"As always, if it's coming out of Pima County, I'm going to question it," Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler said.

"Let's think of reality," she continued. "People are smoking pot next door. Kids are smoking pot at school. H1 Heavy Industrial is a great place. We're just legislating this to death."

"Are we as restrictive as we can be, according to state law, with our regulations?" Councilman Jon Post asked.

"It's hard to know," Cassidy replied. The law allows communities to adopt "reasonable zoning regulations," he said. "I'm comfortable with it. I think it certainly would hold up in court."

OV to consider zoning restriction on medical pot

The Oro Valley Town Council has scheduled a special session Wednesday, Oct. 27 to discuss possible zoning issues associated with medical marijuana dispensaries.

The council plans to discuss and possible amend town code to limit the areas of operation for medical marijuana dispensaries in anticipation that Arizona voters approve Prop 203 on Nov. 2.

"We want to get this in place in the event it passes," said Councilwoman Mary Snider.

Some of the possible zoning restrictions the town could consider are locating dispensaries near urbanized streets for easier monitoring by law enforcement, and keeping dispensaries at least 1,000 feet from schools, libraries, churches, public parks and child care facilities.

Dispensaries and cultivation sites also could be limited to commercially zoned areas.

The agenda item also addresses the allowable sizes of the dispensaries and cultivation locations, and would require a minimum distance of 2,000 feet between dispensaries.

The special session is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20. An executive session is scheduled before the meeting.

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