Many Arizona dispensaries have been forced into industrial areas due to certain zoning restrictions.
But recently, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon, stated that counties and municipalities can adopt reasonable restrictions for dispensary and cultivation locations.
Arizona attorney Jeffrey Kaufman wrote this about the issue:
On October 14, 2013, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon granted White Mountain Health Center’s Motion for Summary Judgment. He ruled that Maricopa County’s Second Text Amendment to the Maricopa County Zoning Ordinance, which limit medical marijuana dispensaries to heavy industrial properties, is unenforceable. The First Text Amendment to the Maricopa Zoning Ordinance had previously allowed medical marijuana dispensaries on commercial properties, such as strip centers. It was repealed and replaced with the version that Judge Gordon struck down as being “patently unreasonable” on the basis that county employees could be subject to federal prosecution if they processed applications for dispensaries. Judge Gordon stated that “A County, however, may not use its zoning powers to violate State law.” The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”) only allows counties and other municipalities to adopt “reasonable restrictions” upon where medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites may be located. The court declared that “No one can seriously argue that the Second Text Amendment was anything less than an attempt to exclude Medical Marijuana Dispensaries” from unincorporated Maricopa County. “The Board of Supervisors unequivocally ignored the AMMA’s direction to confine the County’s regulatory jurisdiction in a manner that only impacted ‘specific area’ for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries. The exact effect of this decision is still somewhat up in the air. Judge Gordon ordered the parties to file additional briefs by October 31, in order to help clarify the issue of whether the First Text Amendment is reinstated, whether there are any restrictions upon where dispensaries can be located in unincorporated Maricopa County or whether some other remedy will be available to the parties.
From the sound of it, Arizona dispensaries might be able to relocate to more populated areas. But as Mr. Kaufman stated, “the exact effect of this decision is still somewhat up in the air.”
Although it does appear that discrimination towards the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act is beginning to lessen.