Arizona cities aim to prevent adult-use cannabis sales expansion

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The city councils of Arizona’s two largest municipalities, Chandler and Mesa, are gearing up to vote in opposition of a recently/approved law to permit adult use cannabis business and testing laboratories. 

The police chief and assistant chief of Arizona’s town of Mesa has urged the City Council to approve an Ordinance No. 20-1212 that would overturn efforts to stop recreational cannabis businesses from opening. 

“Based on lessons learned from other cities who respond to crimes related to recreational marijuana, there is a need to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public by prohibiting cannabis establishments and cannabis testing facilities and prohibiting certain conduct related to recreational cannabis. Further, this Ordinance will make the City consistent with other adjacent and nearby cities,” wrote Mesa’s Police Chief Ken Cost and Assistant Chief Harold Rankin.

Chandler City Council is believed to have voted on a similar statute. Ordinance No. 4949 “takes reasonable steps to limit sales activity in Chandler, as the law permits, by prohibiting any recreational cannabis retail sales that are not operating as a dual licensee and by prohibiting the operation of a testing facility.”

News of the fight against Arizona’s soon-to-be legal market has surfaced in spite of the fact that state voters approved a recreational cannabis measure during the November election. In the event that an adult-use market goes ahead as planned, retail businesses would be allowed to serve the 21-and-older consumer demographic. 

However, Arizona appears to be stumbling across hurdles that have become apparent in other legal states like California and Massachusetts; both of which have encountered difficulties in trying to get the go-ahead for legal sales from their local governments.

Only dual licensees may be able to participate in Arizona’s adult-use cannabis-market

Gilbert will be joined by the towns of Chandler and Mesa in fighting against the launch of a recreational cannabis market, should the planned votes go as anticipated. Although votes were expected to take place by the Chandler City Council and the Mesa City Council on December 7 and December 8, respectively , no updates have yet been reported.

Meanwhile, one medical cannabis dispensary in Chandler is preparing to sell recreational cannabis; as allowed by the November vote. If the ordinance voted on by the City Council is successful, dual licensees do not stand to be affected. Aside from those who do not possess a dual license for cannabis retail sales in Arizona, testing facility owners would also be restricted from operating statewide. 

Arizona’s adult-use cannabis market could launch in March

A recent report featured in the Arizona Republic claimed that statewide recreational cannabis sales could begin from March 20, 2021. Should this happen, the market would have transpired less than five months after the adult-use cannabis proposal was initially approved by voters. 

Based on details of the voter-approved referendum, the approval process for adult-use cannabis applications must begin on January 19, 2021. Furthermore, licenses must be dished out within 60 days of application and 26 “social equity” licenses must be awarded to applicants who have been hardest hit by the war on drugs.

Public opinions on the first draft of recreational cannabis business regulations issued by the Arizona health department were welcomed up until December 17. The draft rules for Arizona’s adult use cannabis market state that approximately a dozen licenses would be issued in rural counties that don’t have more than one medical cannabis dispensary. Hopeful licensees should expect to pay an application fee of $25,000