The Byzantine rules governing where medical marijuana dispensaries could locate has made it almost impossible for one to open in south Scottsdale. It created a “Dispensary Desert” in the southern city while residents in north Scottsdale enjoy easy access to the legal medicine.
Sunday Goods is determined to right this wrong and build a new upscale dispensary in the Winfield Scott Plaza. The proposal now goes to the Scottsdale City Council following a 6 to 1 vote of the Scottsdale Planning commission.
The process has taken years. The paucity of allowed locations in south Scottsdale left Sunday Goods with few options. It bought a tattoo parlor and submitted an ambitious plan to upgrade the building and the surrounding plaza. Unlike many of the nightclubs in the area, this will be a quiet, low key facility that will close at 7pm by city ordinance. Advancing this project to the City Council should be a no-brainer, and certainly the 6 to 1 vote is indicative of the wisdom of this plan.
Still, there was some drama at a recent Planning Commission meeting. A handful of opponents with outdated views on medical marijuana did their best to revisit negative stereotypes, and attempted to the debate of the effectiveness of medical marijuana. Many of these naysayers also opposed adding a rooftop patio for the nice restaurant and bar known as Social Tap suggesting a puritanical approach to zoning.
They were countered by the voices of those who have difficulty travelling to get the legal medicine, such as a cancer patient recovering from chemotherapy not to mention the overwhelming number of people who showed up in support.
Facts are stubborn things. Despite some modest drama, it is impossible to dispute that the existing dispensaries in Scottsdale have been practically incident free. It is undeniable that the new Sunday Goods dispensary will be a big improvement over the old tattoo parlor. And it is obvious that a growing number of medical marijuana patients should not have to leave their neighborhood to get legal medicine. Those facts added up to a near unanimous vote of the Planning Commission.
And there’s no shortage of support outside the Kiva. A survey by a nationally known and credentialed pollster, Public Opinion Strategies, shows 66% of Scottsdale voters supporting the dispensary with 69% of those living closest to the site supporting it.
The anti-medical marijuana naysayers will always be there. But their ranks are getting smaller as the number of medical marijuana patients continues to increase to include seniors looking for some relief from arthritis or pain sufferers looking to stay away from opioids.
It was the state of Arizona’s Department of Health Services that issued the new license for this area, not the city, because of the dramatic underservice of patients. And that was back in 2016! The city may reasonably regulate such licenses but not reject them through unreasonable zoning.
It’s now up to the Scottsdale City Council to finish the job, and end a dispensary disparity in south Scottsdale that has existed for far too long.