Scottsdale discusses medical-pot dispensaries

Originally appeared at: Scottsdale will join a host of other cities in crafting a policy that regulates medical-marijuana dispensaries throughout the city. After passage of Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, cities, towns and counties are allowed to pass “reasonable” zoning regulations that limit where and how the non-profit dispensaries can run. Arizona voters narrowly passed the measure legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to unofficial election results. Residents can comment on regulations during open-house meetings from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 at the One Civic Center building, 7447 E. Indian School Road. On Dec. 8, the Planning Commission will hold a hearing and vote on the regulations. The City Council could vote in early 2011. The Arizona Department of Health Services has until April to draft standards and rules for the program and set up an electronic database to track medical-marijuana users and dispensaries. Health officials have said they expect the drug to be in use by late summer. In preparation, Scottsdale officials have reviewed a model ordinance developed by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns to serve as a guide for municipalities. The model allows cities to “fill in the blanks” on rules regulating the size of dispensaries, hours of operation and proximity to schools, parks, community centers and places of worship. Proposition 203 already bars dispensaries from opening within 500 feet of schools. “They can be customized according to the city,” said Ken Strobeck, the league’s executive director. Linda Sonder, a business owner, operates two clinics offering specialized medical treatments. She has expressed interest in operating a medical-marijuana dispensary at her office, near Lone Mountain and Scottsdale roads. In the past year, Sonder has toured a number of medial-marijuana dispensaries and interviewed owners and staff. Her concern is that the dispensaries are run as retail pot stores, rather than medical dispensaries, she said. “The staff in these stores tends to be casual, young and untrained in the health industry,” Sonder said. “And the atmosphere of these outlets is not one that would welcome and comfort legitimately ill or older patients.” Sonder, who oversees four physicians and two nurses, said every dispensary should have a medical director. “The medical-marijuana industry is designed to offer medicinal relief to those patients seeking alternative care,” she said. “It is not designed to be a poorly disguised roadway to purchasing pot for recreational use.” An article about policy creation in Scottsdale to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the city after the passage of proposition 203, The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.