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Residents Near Scottsdale Saguaro High School Resist Proposed Medical-Marijuana Site

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Residents living near Saguaro High School fought off a proposed medical-marijuana dispensary this week but opposition to 11 other dispensaries and five cultivation facilities proposed for Scottsdale was rather muted over the past two months.

The Scottsdale Planning Commission, besieged by a packed hearing room, voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend denial of a city-use permit for Taxonomy Healing Practices in an office building southwest of McDonald Drive and Granite Reef Road.

Area residents, who collected more than 800 signatures on petitions opposing the dispensary, said it would bring crime to their neighborhood and was too close to schools, churches and homes.

"This is the only one that brought out a strong reaction," said Joe Meyer, who spoke out against the dispensary." I think the applicant picked an inappropriate location."

Planning commissioners heard opposition to other dispensaries and cultivation facilities over the past two months but there were far fewer objections and all were recommend for approval.

As the state begins accepting license applications Wednesday, Scottsdale has approved a use permit for one dispensary, the Virtue Center, 7301 E. Evans Road, in the Scottsdale Airpark.

Ten other applicants are seeking use permits for dispensaries and another five want to operate cultivation centers in the city. They have been recommended for approval by the Planning Commission and must get final approval from the Scottsdale City Council.

Another entity, the Papago Peaks Cultivation College, has opened at McDowell and Scottsdale roads, but the school for learning how to grow marijuana does not require city or state permits.

Six of the medical marijuana applicants are on the City Council's consent agenda for June 7, meaning they could be approved without discussion along with a host of other items in a single vote.

Attorney Adam Trenk, representing Taxonomy Healing Practices, argued the dispensary at 5900 N. Granite Reef Road met the city requirements for a use permit.

He characterized the opposition as being a "knee-jerk reaction" based on the stigma of illegal recreational marijuana.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is expected to award licenses for as many as 126 dispensaries across the state. That includes two in Scottsdale, one south and one north of Doubletree Ranch Road.

Nine of Scottsdale's applicants are in the northern area of the city near the Scottsdale Airpark. A lottery among the qualified applicants will decide which non-profit group gets the coveted dispensary license.

The Kush Clinic and Arizona Natural Selections, both near Via de Ventura and Pima Road, are the only applicants in the southern area of the city that are likely to get use permits in time to qualify for a state license.

"It is a lottery so it's kind of a crap shoot," said Lance Norrick, a principal of the Kush Clinic, about his 50-50 chance of getting a license.

He and other dispensary applicants have argued that their dispensaries will resemble other medical offices that will be virtually undetectable.

"We're not going to have someone standing on a street corner spinning a sign over their head" advertising marijuana, Norrick said.

The biggest problem right now for dispensary applicants is the legal haze between the state and federal government over medical marijuana, he said.

Arizona voters approved limited use of medical marijuana in November but U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke warned earlier this month that marijuana is still illegal under federal statutes.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne was expected to file suit Friday asking a federal judge to determine the legality of Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act.

Any delay in granting licenses will cost applicants tens of thousands of dollars for attorneys, architects and real-estate fees.

Kush Clinic stands to lose additional money it has deposited to buy its office building, Norrick said.

Under the best-case scenario, medical marijuana is not likely to be available until the end of the year. It will take three to four months to grow the marijuana after the licenses are awarded this summer.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: azcentral.com
Author: Peter Corbett
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: azcentral.com
Website: Residents near Scottsdale Saguaro High School resist proposed medical-marijuana site
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