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The Oro Valley Town Council unanimously approved an emergency declaration to update the town’s code regulations on Wednesday, Nov. 4, after Arizona voters approved Proposition 207 legalizing recreational marijuana in the 2020 election.

However, the proposition restricts the town from applying stricter standards on recreational marijuana than what’s currently applied to medical marijuana. 

Oro Valley’s emergency declaration bans single-use marijuana establishments, marijuana sales on town property, use of the drug in public places and open spaces (such as town parks), facilities that test the potency or contamination and door-to-door sales. 

The regulations were originally written and distributed by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns to provide a model code to Arizona municipalities ahead of the Nov. 3

election. 

Oro Valley’s chief civil deputy attorney, Joe Andrews, said there was a two-fold reason for adopting the new code by way of emergency declaration: to make sure regulations are in place before the law goes into effect and to avoid potential diminished value claims to property in the future. 

“It’s important to note without recreational marijuana regulation on the books when Proposition 207 becomes effective, the town runs the risk of recreational marijuana being treated like any other retail use,” Andrews said.

While there are currently no dispensaries within town limits, future establishments will need a dual licence—medical and recreational—to sell recreational marijuana in Oro Valley. 

The town’s current commercial zoning laws that apply to medical marijuana will be identical for recreational marijuana. Potential dispensaries will be required to maintain a 2,000-foot distance from other dispensaries and a 1,000-foot distance from schools, churches, public parks, libraries and substance abuse facilities. Consumption of the plant is not allowed on the premises of any dispensary and hours of operation are restricted to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.  

Using recreational marijuana in public parks and public spaces is prohibited under the Smoke Free Arizona Act. However, use in residential parks could be permitted if the local HOA does not let park-goers know smoking is prohibiting as they would with tobacco products, said Andrews.  

“(HOAs) can hang signage under the Smoke Free Arizona Act that says ‘No smoking in this park,’ because that’s the definition Proposition 207 points to,” Andrews said. “If you put the sign up, that’s another layer to protect them and tells people ‘Hey, don’t smoke this here.’”

Oro Valley residents over 21 years old are allowed to partake on their property, as well as grow up to six plants per adult in the household (up to 12 plants total). According to Prop. 207, residents are responsible to make sure their smoke does not bother their neighbors. During the meeting, Mayor Joe Winfield wondered if non-smoking residents have any recourse should a neighbor’s marijuana smoke become

problematic. 

“In that thought pattern that you presented, you would probably have some recourse on both the town and common law on nuisance,” Town Attorney Gary Cohen said. 

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