To licensed AZ medical marijuana dispensaries, Tucson’s old unused and abandoned warehouses are seen as lucrative real-estate for their budding businesses. They believe they are great spaces that can be reborn as marijuana grow-houses and subsequently be transformed from wasted space to prime-money-making zones.
For such an occurrence to be possible, the city of Tucson needs to readdress the current zoning restrictions that are prohibiting medical marijuana business from taking advantage of theses available spaces; currently, the regulations set in place have growers flocking to Santa Cruz and Phoenix to do their business.
These zoning laws restrict Tucson growers only to use 3000 square foot spaces to cultivate their product, and other county’s like Pima County are even more limiting with a restriction set at 2000 square feet. The reason many growers are seen inhabiting cities like Phoenix instead of Tucson is that there are no set limitations on the amount of space they can use for growing.
Given then the marijuana industry is seeing an influx of customers with more and more people becoming approved for medical marijuana cards, the city is in dire need of an in-city dispensary that can support, sustain and increase with the growing demand.
Some distributors, like Jean Paul Genet who formerly owned the Purplemed Healing Center on South Freeway, have expressed their disappointment in how difficult it has been to maintain enough product in store due to dwindling supply.
Despite already owning a 3000 square foot site that he used for cultivating his cannabis menu in East Tucson, Genet already had his sights on an additional greenhouse located near the Pima Air Space Museum. Despite this, Genet and many other dispensary owners were still not seeing the rise in supply that they required to keep their businesses operating smoothly.
A consultant from the Arizona Medical Marijuana Industry, Demetri Downing, shed some light on where these dispensaries were seen buying their supply from, and more often than not he found that they were buying from cultivators in Phoenix.
Clarifying his reasoning for continuing to cultivate his product in Tucson, Genet explained that by staying local he was able to keep prices low, thereby encouraging more customers to buy. In an ideal world, Genet hoped that he might be able to secure a facility of 50,000 square feet, but given that it was more than ten times the amount currently allowed in Tucson, it remained but a dream.
According to Downing, a collective of Tucson dispensary owners had begun to work with Tucson city council representatives to bring this issue forth and hold a vote on the regulations that were inhibiting growth.
Paul Cunningham of Ward 2 offered his opinion and stated that he was not outright advocating for medical marijuana use and distribution and that the laws in place were to stay as such unless it could be shown that the change in regulations would bring more jobs into Tucson.
Understanding that the need for supply was imminent giving the growing number of medical marijuana cardholders, he stated that, “we can either get on the ball or lose out to Phoenix.”
Cunningham also sent a memo to the City Manager’s Office encouraging that the issue is brought up and discussed during an upcoming study session.
Explaining that the goal was not to change the zoning laws outright, Downing said that the task at hand was to review the current space restrictions that are limiting growing facilities to 3000 square feet. Given that many dispensary owners and licensed growers were expressing a keen interest in the Tucson MMJ grower warehouses, he further encouraged that the restriction is amended.