Weeding out restrictive regulations: Tucson City Council considers helping dispensaries keep up with growth

Updated: Apr. 5, 2021 at 11:36 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson City Council is considering easing restrictions on marijuana dispensaries.

Tuesday afternoon, governing board members will discuss:

  • increasing the maximum size of dispensaries from 4,000 sq. ft. to 10,000 sq. ft.
  • decreasing the minimum setback requirement of 2,000 ft. to 1,000 ft. (from schools, parks and other dispensaries)
  • requiring owners to update their mitigation plans within 30 days of any modification that impacts odor
  • allowing drive-thru pickup windows

“We foresee growth happening as more outreach and education happens,” said Moe Asnani, the director and co-owner of The Downtown Dispensary on 6th Street.

With the expected growth in business, Asnani says they will need more space.

“With the expanded space, I foresee us adding at least about 45 to 65 retail jobs in 2021,” he said. “Also, remember we live in Arizona. It’s going to get very hot here and the more space we have, the more people we can let inside.”

City council member, Steve Kozachik, says it’s important to offer dispensaries more options.

“We were being pretty conservative back in 2010 when medical marijuana was put into place,” said Kozachik. “[With amended codes,] we will not see a big influx of new dispensaries because that is limited by the state, but it will ease the stress on neighborhoods and put some use into appropriate locations. For example, we have vacant storefronts all over the city in shopping malls, they have a boatload of parking.”

Which was a challenge for neighbors of Harvest House of Cannabis when it received its dual license in January. A massive demand for recreational marijuana and extremely limited parking spots led to congestion, residents being boxed into their homes and the need for frequent police presence.

“I wouldn’t be able to commit to actually looking to move our existing location,” said Steve White, the CEO of Harvest Health.

White says he likes being on Grant Road near Tucson Boulevard because of the anticipated development that will turn the area into a commercial district. However, White says Harvest HOC plans to build a much larger, permanent parking lot.

White hopes to open a second location if the proposed code amendments pass.

“A second location would definitely ease the pressure on the current location,” he said.

The Tucson City Council is set to take up the issue at Tuesday’s study session, which starts at 1 p.m. Council may also vote on the changes during the regular board meeting at 5:30 p.m.

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