Though still in the early stages of development, the Town of Marana could become one of the local jurisdictions to house a medical marijuana dispensary, to be located at 5390 W. Ina Road.
Proposition 203, passed in 2010, legalized medical marijuana at the state level, but has been slow to progress after Gov. Jan Brewer authorized a lawsuit against the Federal government seeking declaratory relief. The lawsuit looked to clarify whether or not state officials would be prosecuted under the federal Controlled Substances Act, but was eventually dismissed in court by Judge Susan Bolton for lack of “ripeness.”
“The complaint fails to establish the plaintiffs are subject to a genuine threat of imminent prosecution and consequently, the complaint does not meet the constitutional requirements for ripeness. Therefore, the plaintiff’s claims are unripe and must be dismissed,” it reads.
Following the ruling, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) began accepting applications for medical marijuana patients on April 14, 2011. While about 700 applicants were quick to submit, the actual manifestation of a dispensary has proven to take much longer, as it is subject to certain requirements by the ADHS and zoning regulations of the jurisdiction in which it is to be built.
Marana, which has five eligible Community Health Analysis Areas passing through its jurisdiction, has received applications for two of those locations for dispensaries, to include the Marana CHAA and the Northeast Tucson CHAA.
According to Town Spokesman Rodney Campbell, the dispensary at the Northeast Tucson CHAA, which would have been constructed at 6248 N. Travel Center Dr., received the required conditional use permit from the Town, but was denied by the state.
“The nice thing for the municipality is it’s all on the shoulders of the state,” said Deputy Town Manager Del Post. “The local jurisdictions simply make sure the location chosen is compliant with our zoning ordinance codes. The state ultimately decides if it will move forward.”
The applicant for the Marana CHAA at Ina Road has been given the go-ahead by the state, but has not yet gone through the Town’s conditional-use permit process to move forward.
Campbell said the dispensary would be located in a preexisting building, which would likely have to undergo major modifications. Should the applicant be granted the conditional-use permit, the applicant would have one year to complete any modifications required to the building.
The Town has had little contact from the applicant since the state gave approval to move forward.
When asked whether there was a concern for federal intervention under the Controlled Substances Act, ADHS Public Information Officer Laura Oxley said, “At this point, we are just following state law.”
Attorney General Thomas Horne released an opinion on Aug. 6 clarifying the areas of Proposition 203 that could still be subject to federal law.
“Provisions of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and related rules authorizing cultivating, selling, and dispensing of marijuana are preempted (by federal law),” it reads. “However, the AMMA provisions and related rules that pertain to the issuance of registry identification cards for patients and caregivers are not preempted because they merely serve to identify those individuals for whom the possession or use of marijuana has been decriminalized under state law, and, therefore, are not authorizations to violate federal law.”
Some of the symptoms that would qualify an individual to receive a medical marijuana card include cancer, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s Disease, HIV, AIDS, and agitation of Alzheimer’s.