The County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss making amendments to the marijuana establishments ordinance it adopted last month.
In early March, the board approved an ordinance that allows recreational and medical marijuana shops to operate within Santa Cruz County’s unincorporated areas with newly defined buffer zones.
This week, the board will revisit that ordinance to possible redefine those buffer zones.
“What it is, is we’re just making language changes that make it comply with the way the law was stated,” Supervisor Manuel Ruiz told the NI on Friday in reference to the state’s regulations. “Ours was more restrictive as far as the distance between a church or school and a dispensary.”
The county’s recently approved regulations required a distance of at least a half-mile, or 2,640 feet, between each marijuana dispensary, as well as at least a quarter-mile, or 1,320 feet, between a dispensary and any churches, schools and/or parks.
County officials heard some opposition to those buffer zones when they approved the ordinance last month, including from Jim Kennedy, who said he was previously able to safely operate a medical marijuana facility under the older, less restrictive guidelines.
“We would like to reopen our facility… but there are currently churches which would be within the (1,320) feet, where it was not a problem when we coexisted with the community previously,” Kennedy said at the time.
The county approved its medical marijuana ordinance in early 2011 after Arizona voters approved medical use of the plant in the November 2010 general election. A decade later, in November 2020, the state’s voters legalized marijuana for recreational use, and the county responded by updating its rules.
The updated ordinance was approved with the more restrictive distance limits on March 2, but the supervisors said they were willing to bring the topic back for discussion and make necessary changes.
The public hearing will be held in tandem with the board’s regular session on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. Members of the public can weigh in on the measure by participating in the call to the public or commenting during the public hearing by phoning in.
To participate in the telephonic meeting, dial (669) 900-6833 and enter meeting ID 914-664-2271. To provide public comment, dial *9 to ask for permission to speak.
The public can also participate via Zoom video call. For more information, see www.santacruzcountyaz.gov/AgendaCenter.