Phoenix Council won't go to voters on dispensary issue

After a more than three-hour meeting Tuesday, Phoenix City Council dropped plans to seek voter input in May on whether to ban or restrict medical marijuana facilities inside city limits.

But it likely will consider putting up at least a temporary roadblock.

City officials were divided over whether the city could effectively ask voters to ban or restrict businesses that are permitted by the state.

Medical marijuana facilities will be allowed under state rules beginning March 3. City Manager Steve Dahl said the council likely will consider a four-month moratorium, which would effectively prohibit any dispensaries from receiving a permit in Phoenix until at least July.

The moratorium could go into place as early as March 3, the day such facilities can request legal licensing from the state under House Bill 3460.

Dahl said a moratorium, which city officials believe would be recognized by state officials, would give the city time to determine proper zoning for businesses related to the medical marijuana industry.

Dahl said the council was following the lead of other cities in the state, including Sherwood and North Bend, which have approved moratoriums in recent months.

In addition to delaying a decision about medical marijuana businesses, city officials delayed plans to place restrictions on backyard growers to deal with nuisance issues such as odor.

Dahl said the city for now would rely on existing nuisance laws to address issues.

Inside Phoenix, a patient resource center dubbed The Greenery is already in operation. Operating without a business license, The Greenery is being issued citations of up to $100 per day, which the owners plan to contest in court.

The operators contend that information sharing and communication between patients is legal under state law, and they say the facility is not currently operating as a state-defined medical marijuana facility.

— Buffy Pollock

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