Coolidge Marijuana Zoning Map

A map of Coolidge showing potential restrictions on marijuana sales and cultivation within city limits. The light green area in the southwest corner is a current cultivation site. The green areas along Arizona Boulevard represent potential future sites for dispensaries. The gray areas on the map represent a 500-foot separation boundary; the city council expanded that to 1000 feet.

COOLIDGE — With the legalization of marijuana in Arizona under Proposition 207, many cities have begun to formally regulate sales. Coolidge City Council members sought to balance potential commercial needs with keeping the drug away from community centers.

At their meeting on Monday, council members approved an amendment to the zoning code, which served several purposes: first, recreational marijuana was approved within zoning for medical marijuana, pending a Conditional Use Permit. The city limited recreational marijuana sales sites to be only at an existing medical dispensary-there is currently one in the city.

Also, the “exclusion area” boundary between potential dispensaries and sites like schools and churches was extended from 500 to 1,000 feet.

The decision was meant to accommodate expansion by Item 9 Labs Corp for their cultivation site just west of the city, while allowing the city’s current dispensary, Arizona MMJ Trading Company, to potentially sell recreational marijuana out of their site on Kenworthy Road. The distance provision would limit future dispensary sites to several areas along Arizona Boulevard.

“If I was in that business id try to keep everything in the same place,” said Councilman Steve Hudson. “You want to keep it somewhere available because otherwise people will start growing pot out of their house. You want to make sure people have access, and you will also generate sales tax.”

According to Economic Development Director Gilbert Lopez, existing medical dispensaries have first priority on acquiring the limited number of recreational licenses available.

Mayor Jon Thompson didn’t think that adding additional marijuana dispensaries would be a major issue for the city in the near-term.

“I don’t know why you’d come to a small rural community to sell marijuana if you were going to have a limited number statewide,” Thomson said.

Other items addressed at the meeting included a formal proclamation for the city’s 18th annual Arbor Day, an initiative of the late Bob Flatley, former Coolidge city manager.

New District 1 County Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh also attended the meeting, to introduce himself.

“I will make myself available to people of this district,” Cavanaugh said, “and work hand in hand with local governments. We bought a house here a few years ago, we love downtown Coolidge, it will be a great honor to serve.”

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Aaron Dorman is a reporter covering Coolidge and the surrounding area. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.