Jonathan Udell, Rose Law Group cannabis department co-chair, talks to New Times about zoning problems plaguing Arizona’s cannabis social equity program

By Cyrus Guccione | Phoenix New Times

When she was in high school, Arianna Muñoz was charged with possession of narcotics because she was carrying a vape cartridge and a gram of wax concentrate. Despite being a medical marijuana cardholder in 2019, once Muñoz set foot outside a dispensary, she was illegally in possession of narcotics. “That’s the way the laws were written,” said Muñoz, who hired a lawyer, wore an ankle monitor, and served probation for more than two years.

Today, carrying up to 5 grams of concentrate in Arizona results in no penalty, no fine, and no jail time.

Muñoz’s story is like countless others from people who were hurt by the war on drugs. As a result, she is also one of some 1,500 applicants who qualified and filed for the last 26 social equity adult-use dispensary licenses in Arizona, due to be issued in a random drawing by the Arizona Department of Health Services on Friday.

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“I think it’s unfortunate that there are so many pretenders who purport to be advocates of social equity applicants who are going out of their way to make life as difficult as they possibly can for the true bonafide social equity applicants and submitted applicants,” said Jon Udell, political director of Arizona NORML and co-chair of Rose Law Group’s cannabis department.

“Tucson is one of the more progressive cities in the state of Arizona and they seem poised to have some of the worst zoning rules out there with this special exception process that’s creating a bunch of extra hoops for social equity applicants to jump through,” Udell said.

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