Room to Grow: Tucson is looking for an up-to-date code to allow larger dispensaries, drive-thru service, and other customizations to cannabis

As adult recreational pot rules creep through processes from the Arizona Department of Health to the community level, the city of Tucson is focused on updating its zoning ordinances to accommodate the new reality of legal weed.

In August 2020, a series of meetings and study sessions began to discuss updates to the pharmacy zoning code, with an emergency solution to address the need for physical distancing in Tucson pharmacy lobbies.

The current zoning limits the number of pharmacies to 4,000 square meters, with a maximum of a quarter of the area being used for lobby areas. Tucson City Council agreed to relax these rules to make room for those waiting for pharmacy service, as well as roadside collection, home delivery, and the use of drive-thrus when they do Are present in buildings that have been converted for use in pharmacies.

Key changes to consider in the final round include code updates for Parking Lot, Pharmacy Size, Lobby Size, Layout, Dual-Use Facilities, and Drive-Thrus.

Proposed changes include increasing the maximum size of a pharmacy from 4,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, removing the driving throttle restrictions on marijuana facilities, and amending the regulation to reflect the new reality of legalized adult use. A stakeholder meeting in mid-October resulted in several temporary measures related to COVID to expand sales options and expand floor space to accommodate social distancing.

An additional stakeholder meeting in December asked for feedback on code updates. Planning and Development Services should be achieved by April.

In mid-January, Tucson Planning and Development held two virtual public sessions to discuss proposed changes to the UDC, two weeks before the Arizona Department of Health gave adult licensees the go-ahead to begin recreational sales.

Tucson City Council has scheduled a public hearing and review of the changes on March 23rd.

The meetings continued on Wednesday evening (after the press conference) with a study session. A virtual public hearing will take place next Wednesday, March 17th at or after 6 p.m. to introduce the public to the proposed updates.

For more information and a link to the March 17 meeting, visit the planning committee’s website at www.tucsonaz.gov/pdsd/planning-commission.

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Prop 207 allows local jurisdictions to create their own rules for recreational herbs, but they are not allowed to make ordinances more restrictive than what is currently allowed for medical dispensaries.

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Pharmacies Are Open: Prime Leaf and Downtown Pharmacies are the newest on-site stores to start selling recreational items.

Prime Leaf began selling on Monday March 8th at the University (Park Avenue). The Midtown Speedway location will begin sales later this month, according to CEO Brian Warde. It is currently only sold online with no adult walk-up service.

Recreational customers can place their orders on theprimeleaf.com and are given a time slot to collect their orders, while medical patients can still get their medication in store.

Warde wants to make sure his medical patients continue to get the product and service they have come to expect from Prime Leaf, even though prices – mostly for flowers – have increased by around 20-25% to compensate for the increased cost of wholesale cannabis To take into account, medical patients continue to receive 20% membership discounts and daily specials. There are many products out there now, although Warde says that because of the long-term implications of sales and recreational testing requirements, “we don’t really know what it looks like until the market adapts”.

But overall, it’s a big step into the future and away from the politics of criminal war on drugs that has influenced life for decades.

“We’re working on training people for the new frontier,” said Warde. “It’s really exciting to think about how many people have been waiting for this day and how many lives have been ruined [by the War on Drugs]. “

On March 5th, both Downtown Dispensary and D2 started recreational sales after some major renovations to add collection windows and additional upgrades to payment systems.

“It was crazy busy,” said owner Moe Asnani. “The demand is there and we try to make it as easy as possible for our customers.”

To this end, the Downtown Dispensary website provides a link to on-street parking and encourages high-performing recreational patients to leave roadside parking for medical patients.

While Asnani says there has been a “significant adjustment in prices,” discounts are still available for patients and on products, including Downtown’s iLava brands.

Online orders are recommended at thedowntowndispensary.com. Don’t forget to bring legal ID to open the door.

Applications for adult sales began January 19, and by the end of January AZDHS had 86 dual licenses issued and sales began almost two months earlier.

Other Tucson pharmacies that sell adult recreational herbs include Hana Meds, Earth’s Healing North, Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center, Bloom, and Harvest as dual license cannabis dispensaries in southern Arizona. More will follow in the coming weeks.

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