TUCSON, ARIZONA-City Planning Commission recommends lifting medical marijuana grow house restrictions

By Christina Pae
The debate over how extensively medical marijuana can be grown and delivered to patients within Tucson city limits was discussed at a public meeting in City Hall Wednesday. The city’s Planning Commission approved to recommend several amendments to the city’s current medical marijuana regulations, including a proposal to lift floor-space restrictions for off-site cultivation houses in industrial zones. The current ordinance states these grow houses are limited to a maximum of 3,000 square feet of floor space. Those advocating medical marijuana growers in Tucson have said this is not enough space and not business-friendly. “We needed to get an expansion of the grow size, the expansion of grow opportunities, in order to keep that business back here. It means investment capital stays here, it means jobs stay here,” said Demitri Downing. Supporters who attended Wednesday’s meeting saw the commission’s approvals as a positive sign, arguing that the proposals will keep the growing medical marijuana industry in Tucson and not be lost to surrounding municipalities like Phoenix, which has no grow house space limit. The Planning Commission approved other proposed revisions, including a proposal to expand medical dispensary operation hours to 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. There was also discussion and subsequent approval of an amendment that would let dispensaries deliver medical marijuana to patients at hospices, state-licensed institutions and patients in their private homes. Other approved recommendations include allowing a minimum setback of 500 feet for off-site cultivation houses from schools, and allowing infusion kitchens within dispensaries and off-site cultivation houses. Proposals to allow expansion of medical marijuana dispensaries themselves, was not recommended by the Planning Commission. Another amendment that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries and off-site cultivation houses in C-1, or more condensed commercial zones, was also not approved by the commission. The Planning Commission will forward their recommendations to the mayor and council, which will make a final decision expected in September, according to Planning and Development’s deputy director.

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