Chandler mulls relaxing some marijuana sales regs - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler mulls relaxing some marijuana sales regs

December 21st, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler mulls relaxing some marijuana sales regs
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By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

City Council will soon consider relaxing some of its regulations that have made Chandler the most restrictive city when it comes to medical marijuana.

“Chandler has been the most restrictive and will continue to be one of the most restrictive in the state,” said Lindsay Schube, an attorney at Gammage & Burnham, which represented the clients requesting the change.

The change is being asked for by citizen initiative, meaning it is not being requested by city officials. That’s rare. Kevin Mayo, the city’s planning administrator, said it’s only the second time a citizen initiative has come through in the past decade.

The other case was in 2013 to change the city’s ordinances on backyard chickens, which ultimately failed back then by one council vote.

Council ended up changing those ordinances to allow backyard chickens earlier this month.

“It was a citizen initiative because staff was just slammed,” Schube said. “We get to take the legwork away from them and help with the drafting and putting everything in legislative edits and all that. It was a very close working [relationship] with the Planning Department for a great application.”

In the medical marijuana case, Planning & Zoning commissioners unanimously agreed with the requests being made to slightly increase the square footage of facilities and to allow for some mixing of the types of businesses.

For example, one facility would be allowed to grow medical marijuana, sell the product and infuse it into edibles. If they did all three, they face a maximum square footage limit of 12,500.

Individually, those three different types of facilities would have up to 5,000 square feet if the change is adopted. Mayo said the current code limits dispensaries to 2,500 square feet, cultivation facilities to 3,000 and the city did not address infusion food establishments.

“I don’t believe that it was a conscious decision to not include a limitation on that. I think it just got kind of tripped up in the language,” Mayo told commissioners.

Under current regulations, operators can’t do more than one of those three different phases of the business.

The other major change is the hours of operation. The city would allow them to open at 7 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. They would still have to close by 10 p.m.

Those requests for changes now go to the council for consideration.

One of the reasons for the change is that there is only one medical marijuana dispensary on city land, but there are four others that are on county islands, which are unincorporated areas inside the city’s borders.

Those four dispensaries face far fewer regulations than the one on city land. For example, Maricopa County does not limit hours of operation.

Schube said if the council adopts these changes, it will not lead to a large influx of new medical marijuana businesses in the city.

Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Rick Heumann agreed, saying the original restrictions remain in place and make it almost impossible for new businesses to open up because they have to be a certain distance away from schools, day care centers and other such facilities.

He said there just aren’t any of those spaces available.

What the change will do is allow existing facilities to increase their size to better serve their current customers.

In addition to the one dispensary on city land, Schube said there is one infusion and cultivation facility in Chandler.

Schube said that because the businesses are so small, customers sometimes have to wait outside to be served. This will allow them to expand so clients no longer have to wait under a summer sun.

“Medical marijuana has proven to be a very, very safe business in the State of Arizona and (Department of Health Services) does a fabulous job regulating it, and all the cities have done a great job with land use,” Schube said. “So to me, it’s one of the safest businesses you can have.”