Chandler City Council voted Dec. 7 to tentatively adopt an ordinance amending the city code to allow for the regulation of recreational marijuana. Council members Mark Stewart and Jeremy McClymonds voted against the adoption of the ordinance.
The ordinance allows the city to prohibit the consumption of marijuana on city property, repeals conflicting ordinances and prohibits recreational marijuana retail sales and marijuana testing facilities. The ordinance also introduces penalties for violating laws related to the consumption of marijuana.
Proposition 207, also known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, was approved by voters during the November election. The law legalizes the possession and consumption of recreational marijuana in the state of Arizona.
Among the provisions of Prop. 207 are:
- allowing personal possession of limited amounts of marijuana;
- allowing limited, secure cultivation of marijuana plants on residential property;
- imposing a 16% excise tax on recreational marijuana sales;
- banning smoking marijuana in public (but not edibles or vaping);
- authorizing the state and local regulation of recreational marijuana licensees;
- eliminating criminal penalties for small-quantity marijuana possession; and
- allowing for the expungement of marijuana convictions.
The proposition allows current nonprofit medical dispensaries in the state to become “dual licensees,” Chandler City Attorney Kelly Schwab said, meaning they will be permitted to sell marijuana to medical marijuana cardholders for medical purposes and to non-cardholders for recreational purposes.
Schwab said there is one medical dispensary in Chandler's city limits, and because of that, Chandler City Council will not be able to prohibit the sale of all recreational marijuana. There are three other facilities located on county property near Chandler's city limits, as well, Schwab said. But the law does allow the city to impose some limitations, Schwab said.
Among the limitations Prop. 207 allows cities and towns to create are:
- enacting reasonable zoning regulations that limit recreational marijuana establishments to specified areas;
- prohibiting or regulating conduct otherwise allowed by the proposition that occurs on or in property occupied, owned, controlled or operated by the city;
- limiting the number of recreational marijuana establishments or testing facilities, or both;
- prohibiting recreational marijuana establishments or testing facilities;
- regulating the time, manner, and place of operations;
- enacting reasonable signage regulations regarding marijuana; and
- prohibiting delivery within the city limits.
Chandler's new ordinance prohibits any recreational marijuana sales from businesses not operating as a dual license and by prohibiting the operation of a testing facility.
"I'm very comfortable with it," Council Member Terry Roe said. "Any adult person that would like to get recreational marijuana can go to Chandler, Tempe, Mesa or Gilbert and get it. It will be available, and no one is being deprived. And it was passed by the voters, whether you agree with it or not. But we do have a process, and I don't think anyone is going to go without, so I am good with it."
Stewart and McClymonds both said they wanted to work with Schwab on some of the language of the ordinance before voting yes.
"I'd like to work on a plan to create equal, fair zoning," McClymonds said.