Monday, November 9, 2020

Town Applies Most Stringent Rules Possible For Sale of Recreational Marijuana

Winfield: "Most stringent rules adopted"
Voters approved the sale of recreational marijuana in Arizona last week. Each town can apply its own rules to the sale of this product. State law does not allow a town to outright ban the sale of this product. 

Oro Valley Town Council has created a set of rules that "...maximizes the protection of the community to the extent of the law", according to Mayor Joe Winfield. 

Public safety is the primary issue
Retail sales of marijuana does present a major public safety hazard. As Council Member Solomon noted at last week's council meeting, the sale of this product is prohibited by federal law. Thus, credit cards can not be used. It is a cash business.  This factor alone can draw crime to the facility not only terms of significant cash on hand; but also because the facility could be use to "launder" drug money. In addition, Solomon noted that in California, where retail sales are allowed, large groups tend to congregate around the retail store. Fortunately, Oro Valley is not California.

Council Member Greene has observed the link between marijuana potency and schizophrenia. Marijuana is more potent than in years past because of changes in cultivation. "The more potent the marijuana and the higher likelihood of schizophrenia." It can be especially impactful on young smokers."

Key rule: No freestanding retail "pot shops"
Pot can only be sold in a medical marijuana store
The town looked to guidelines provided by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns and to recently established rules by the towns of Gilbert and Sahuarita to craft its ordinances. 

The most important of these is that a town can determine recreational marijuana can only be sold in a non profit medical marijuana establishment in a shared space. These businesses are already restricted (see panel right). Oro Valley adopted this approach.

Oro Valley has no medical marijuana facilities
Oro Valley's medical marijuana sale regulations are tight. Perhaps that is why there are not such stores in the town. Those that want to sell marijuana can only do so in areas designated as red or pink in the map above. Sales are prohibited in areas surrounding schools, churches, public parks, libraries and substance abuse treatment centers.

Many homeowner associations have their own parks. These are not public parks. HOA's will need to post "no smoking" signs in their parks if they wish to prevent marijuana consumption.

There can be no drive-thru facilities. That includes a truck driving around the community selling marijuana. The retail store can be no more than 2,000 square feet. Storage areas must be limited. Stores must be closed by 10 and a store can only cultivate the plant indoors.

Oro Valley's rules promote conformance with the general plan
Oro Valley's recreational marijuana rules are consistent with what the community wants. The general plan states that we want a " community with low crime, safe neighborhoods and positive relationships between enforcement and community members." Also, the rules protect vulnerable populations and allow retail locations in specific buffered areas. 

Emergency Declaration
The resolutions take effect immediately.

Still a risk to you of smoke from your neighbors
One area that the rules do not cover are the smell of "weed" wafting into your home residency from a neighbor's use. They are free to light up as they wish and there's nothing you can do about it.  This can be a problem for those living in apartments or owners of the many thousands of homes in areas with small lots.