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Phoenix moratorium on medical pot dispensaries a no-go

A motion to pass an emergency moratorium on all medical marijuana-related businesses within Phoenix city limits failed to gain the required unanimous approval at a Monday council meeting.

Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will become legal under state law beginning March 3, but a moratorium would have given the city up to six months to outline local restrictions for such businesses.

The emergency motion was favored by only four of six council members.

Council members Carolyn and Stan Bartell, Chris Luz and Bruce Sophie approved of a moratorium, while members Terry Helfrich and Karen Jones were against the idea.

Helfrich told the council a moratorium of up to six months seemed "ridiculous" and unnecessary.

"Dispensaries won't even be approved until March 3, so I don't understand the benefit of a moratorium," he said. "I'm not even going to spend $10,000 (legal fees) on a moratorium if we're still going to get to the same place.

"We're plowing ahead of something we don't know will happen. We're kind of jumping at our own shadows."

City Manager Steve Dahl said a non-emergency ordinance allowing a moratorium could be discussed by the council at an upcoming meeting.

Council members approved putting an advisory vote on May ballots for which Dahl said city staff would devise a list of questions pertaining to medical marijuana inside city limits.

A town hall meeting is planned to receive public input on marijuana facilities and special city regulations for backyard growers.

— Buffy Pollock