Congress Recreational Marijuana Use (copy)

A bud tender holds two marijuana buds on his fingers on the way to a customer. Willcox's City Council has approved a recreational marijuana measure.

WILLCOX — Willcox City Council members discussed what the city stands to gain or lose by allowing recreational marijuana businesses to set up shop in their city, now that Arizona voters approved Proposition 207 in November

Prop 207 allows recreational marijuana use, regulated possession, distribution, sale and taxation in municipalities that decide to adopt a city ordinance permitting it in their city.

According to an Arizona Republic article from July 7, 2020: “Prop 207, also known as the Smart and Safe Act, legalizes the adult recreational use of marijuana, specifically by allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce (28g) of marijuana (with no more than five grams being marijuana concentrate), and have up to six marijuana plants at their home (with up to 12 marijuana plants in households with two or more adult members.) It directs the state Department of Health Services to set forth rules for retail marijuana sales by June 1, 2021, allow marijuana to be subjected to state and local sales taxes like other retail items, and imposes an additional 16% excise tax on marijuana products, with the revenue being split between the state government agencies responsible for activities relating to the act, highways, community college districts, police departments and fire departments.”

During Thursday night’s city council meeting, city manager Caleb Blaschke presented a plan to council members to revise the current medical marijuana ordinance so that it refers to recreational marijuana regulations

Blaschke began his presentation by making reference to a map in the back of the room, outlining where marijuana dispensaries can currently exist in the city.

“The marijuana ordinance was voted on by the citizens of the state of Arizona and it was passed,” he said. “It allows recreational marijuana to exist within the state of Arizona. It allows people to pick plants in their property. So we did corrections from the city council to go back and review our medical marijuana ordinance. That’s when we really dig into what we already have on this list.”

Blaschke said areas approved for sale must be set back from schools, public parks and churches by 500 feet.

“We’re going to be going through a process right now where we are updating our zoning code,” he said. “Part of that zoning code that we’re going to be looking at are these the best areas for that in the future. Other things we want to consider are adult entertainment. Where would we want that? So right now we are using the exact language that we had for medical marijuana.

“One of the things that our city attorney said is that we can’t make greater regulations for recreational than medical marijuana. It has to be the same. So when it comes to businesses coming in, there’s lighting requirements, there’s security requirements. There’s odor requirements. All of those requirements that exist for medical marijuana, will now be for recreational marijuana.

After a motion from Mayor Mike Laws, the city council unanimously approved the documents previously filed with city clerk Crystal Hadfield related to recreational marijuana as public record.

Following this decision, a back and forth discussion took place among Laws and council members on the pros and cons of recreational marijuana in general, let alone allowing it in their city.

“Currently with this resolution, on the home, in the home, on their personal private property they can have it, but now we can enforce the law,” Vice Mayor Tim Bowlby said.

“Well am I correct that it’s something like alcohol? If you do it and then you go drive, you drink and drive?” Laws asked.

“We can keep the door open. No matter what comes up,” Bowlby responded.

This was followed by the unanimous approval of the adoption of the recreational marijuana ordinance, replacing their previous medical marijuana ordinance.