One of the biggest recommendations the board made is to remove the ordinance’s sunset date. This proposed change would let the city council make more changes as needed instead of resulting in a static ordinance with unchangeable rules.
Other alterations that the Planning Commission board is recommending are changes involving medical marijuana and Tucson dispensary locations and plans for dealing with marijuana odors.
The strong smell of marijuana cultivation was brought up by concerned citizens in the meeting. Brian Warde, the CEO of a dispensary called The Prime Leaf, is planning a cultivation site along the South Rita Road, and some people feel that this location is too close to residential areas.
Warde and his business partners have plans to have an indoor and outdoor grow operation of roughly 90,000 square feet operating by April of this year. Supporters of this medical marijuana growth facility point out that it will bring jobs to the area and make it easier for people with health problems to get their medication.
Though Warde plans to go ahead with building the new site, some Tucson residents are complaining that they were not properly notified about the issue. They fear that the strong scent may permeate their homes and impair their quality of life.
One resident stated, “If you’re going to have a facility this size, and you want it to smell, then put it out by the dump. Put it out underneath where the planes fly with fuel. It shouldn’t be near the houses.”
Warde counters, “Our intention is never to come in and have a negative impact. We really selected this location and this site because we really think it fit for where people want to live, and we want to be part of that.”
Due to these conflicts, the Planning Commission hopes that the city council will follow their recommended changes. Suggestions about locating medical marijuana dispensaries 1,000 feet away from public parks and other areas may mitigate some tensions.
Though there is no discussion of odor mitigation in the marijuana ordinance right now, the issue might not be quite as bad as residents fear. All medical marijuana facilities in Tucson have to meet rigorous odor mitigation standards anyways, so there is unlikely to be any issues.
At the discussed facility, they will be using techniques that help to capture and remove marijuana odors instead of allowing them to spread to the general public. The boards suggestion that the ordinance contain clearer odor mitigation language may reduce misconceptions and solve future conflicts.
In its current incarnation, Tucson city officials are supposed to review the ordinance every two years, and it has an automatic expiration date of January 31, 2019. Plans to remove this date would result in a longer-lasting ordinance that can better regulate medical marijuana in Tucson.
Currently, there are no official changes to the ordinance, and it remains the same ordinance that was put into place after Glendale Arizona voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2010.
However, the city council will review the recommended changes and provide their final decision soon.