Print Cottonwood finalizes marijuana ordinance
Written by Greg Ruland   
Friday, 11 March 2011 00:00

Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh directed staff to craft the city’s medical marijuana ordinance with one idea in mind: “Marijuana is still illegal in Arizona.”

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act simply carved out a “small exception” to that rule, Bartosh told City Council on March 1.

“We want to see it be used as the law intended,” available to qualified patients but beyond the reach of abusers, he said.

Weeks before the Arizona Department of Health Services finalizes its rules Monday, March 28, council voted unanimously to declare Cottonwood’s proposed ordinance a public record, one of the steps necessary to make the law official.

A second reading and final vote is expected Tuesday, March 15.

Cottonwood Town Manager Doug BartoshThe move makes it likely the ordinance will become law in April, about two weeks after the state starts authorizing patients and certifying dispensaries, growers and caregivers.

Under Cottonwood’s scheme, dispensaries, cultivators and infusion plant operators will be required to register with the city’s Community Development Department and obtain a business license, Long-range Planner Charles Scully told council.

Infusion operations are facilities that fuse marijuana with edible food products like brownies and ice cream.

These will be required to obtain the same county and city permits any other business that makes and serves food must obtain, Scully said.

Dispensaries will not be allowed to sell anything but medical marijuana and patients will be barred from acquiring health care services within the dispensary sales area. Patients, and anybody else affiliated with the business, will be prohibited from consuming marijuana on site.

Dispensaries must be located at least 500 feet from any schools, broadly defined under the ordinance to include preschools and day care operations.

Mayor Diane Joens urged council to consider increasing the barrier to 1,000 feet to protect children from the risk of getting caught in a robbery or other dangerous situation related to the dispensary’s operation.

Standard building and fire codes will apply. The normal planning and zoning process for new structures will also be enforced, Scully said.

Under Cottonwood’s scheme, marijuana dispensaries, cultivators and infusion plant operators will be required to register with the city’s Community Development Department and obtain a business licenseNew zoning rules will also apply. Dispensaries and dispensaries with infusion operations will be permitted in commercial zones only. However, dispensaries with an attached cultivation operation will be conditionally permitted in industrial zones only, he said.

Likewise, cultivation and infusion operations not attached to a dispensary will be conditionally permitted in industrial zones only.

Infusion operations will be allowed to occupy no more than 5,000 square feet, dispensaries no more than 10,000 square feet, Scully said.

All medical marijuana operations must be properly secured and sealed to prevent the release of any dust, fumes, vapors or odors.

Patients and caregivers who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary will be allowed to grow marijuana in residential areas, but must be registered with the city to do so, Scully said.