Because of a loophole in Arizona’s new medical marijuana law, smoking a joint in the local park legally could soon become a reality. Right now the law prohibits marijuana smoking in any public place, but properties controlled by home owners associations are considered private property.
“The definition of ‘public place’ does not expressly include the common areas of planned communities. . . .”
The law approved by voters in November states qualified patients with certain debilitating medical conditions can receive up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from dispensaries or cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants if they live 25 miles or farther from a dispensary. Critics of the law think that if you leave it up to the physicians to determine the amount qualifying patients need without medical testing could lead to more people toking out in places like private HOA parks.
Chandler Planning Director Jeff Kurtz said the issue may have to be resolved in court. During his city’s work on zoning laws for medical-marijuana dispensaries, Chandler is proposing distance requirements from public parks, but not “private” HOA parks.
The DHS is expected to finish writing medical-marijuana rules in March, and dispensaries likely will begin operating in April after the period for public comment is closed.
I really hope that Arizona will figure out all the details before dispensaries actually open their doors because it’s unfair to try to change laws and regulations afterwards. It’s like trying to close the barn door after the horse has run away!
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