Saturday, September 24, 2022 10:34 am

Why new marijuana shops are blocked in Phoenix — for now; zoning attorney and Rose Law Group Founder & President Jordan Rose has urgent message for social equity license winners

By Ryan Randazzo | Arizona Republic

When Arizona issued 26 new licenses for marijuana shops last month in a high-stakes lottery to fulfill a “social equity” component of marijuana legalization, the winners assumed their opportunity could be worth millions.

But zoning issues in Phoenix and Tucson could make those licenses worth much less, and may even result in some winners losing their licenses because they can’t use them by a state-imposed deadline.

While officials in Phoenix never explicitly blocked the new shops the way Gilbert and several other Valley cities like Scottsdale and Surprise have, the zoning rules will have that effect, at least for now.

The issue in Phoenix is that social equity licenses only allow recreational sales to people 21 and older, not medical sales, which are taxed and licensed differently. In Phoenix, existing zoning rules only account for dispensaries that sell medical marijuana.

“The city of Phoenix does not allow a standalone recreational marijuana dispensary,” Phoenix Zoning Administrator Tricia Gomes said in an interview with The Arizona Republic on Tuesday. “It must be an accessory to a medical marijuana dispensary.”

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“Because most municipalities will need to change their zoning code, the social equity license winners have to start that process now if they have any hope of being open in 18 months, as required by law.”

Jordan Rose, Rose Law Group zoning attorney, founder and president
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