|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:00|
The Camp Verde Town Council passed no additional restrictions to the state rules for medical marijuana sales and cultivation, beyond forbidding a dispensary to set up shop within 500 feet of a day care center.
According to state regulations crafted after the passage of the Proposition 203 medical marijuana referendum last November, a dispensary also can’t operate within 500 feet of any school, public or private.
After more than an hour of discussion at its meeting May 12, the council voted 4-1 to approve new planning and zoning rules, including the regulations governing any potential future medical marijuana industry in town.
The council decided to allow dispensaries in any area zoned C2 commercial, which includes most of the town’s retail shopping areas. They also will allow dispensaries to cultivate marijuana on-site and declined to put restrictions on off-site cultivation facilities as to the number allowed and how far apart they must be, save for limiting them to areas zoned C3, M1 and M2, primarily areas zoned for industrial use.
Councilwoman Carol German voted against the proposals because she felt the town’s proposed marijuana rules are far too lax.
“The law barely passed, and I still question that vote in my mind,” German said. “I think you still have a vast number of people out there who are against the sale of marijuana.”
German argued for more stringent rules while pointing out that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
“I believe we’re dealing with an illegal substance, according to the fed,” German said. “They haven’t interfered yet, but are they going to come in eventually? Realistically I think we ought to be putting in a few regulations in order to control the situation as responsible citizens.”
Councilman Pete Roulette argued against excessive regulation.
“I’m … a capitalist; I don’t think we should be trying to regulate [this issue] to death,” Roulette said. “I think free enterprise will take care of itself. We’re a fairly conservative town, and if you put a dispensary down here I think it’s going to have a rough go of it.”
Roulette also said that a lot of business already goes out of town to Cottonwood, and if the town encourages medical marijuana traffic to go the other way, he joked about the benefit to local restaurants.
“Those people get hungry,” Roulette said.
The council also discussed the possibility of increasing the limit around schools to 1,000 feet, but with so many schools near commercial areas already, Community Development Director Mike Jenkins said such a rule just pushes dispensaries into a less public spot, something the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office is opposed to for security and safety reasons.
Councilwoman Norma Garrison supported expanding the distance and said she was already worried the monthly amount medical marijuana patients are allowed will lead to a lot of resale of the product to people who don’t have a doctor’s recommendation.
Mayor Bob Burnside pointed out that 500 feet is already the required distance that adult-oriented businesses had to operate away from schools, and wasn’t sure what expanding the distance would actually accomplish.
“What do you think is going to happen,” Burnside asked. “What is the heartburn here?”
Vice Mayor Bob Kovacovich suggested limiting dispensaries to State Route 260, but was advised that would be against the rules as a town can only limit locations with zoning rules, not specific geographic locations.
Town Manager Russ Martin also warned that if the town tried to restrict this industry too much, it could lead to an increase in the number of home-based marijuana caregivers allowed in town, a group far less visible from an enforcement standpoint.
Councilwomen Jackie Backer and Robin Whatley were not at the meeting.