The Main Stream

Jun 1, 2012 7:56 PM

Dispensary locations hard to find

TUCSON - The State of Arizona Department of Health Services is reviewing applications from people wanting to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, however the process of locating a site was complicated one realtor told News 4 Tucson.

Ed Henne, who has worked for Long Realty for 13 years said he and his business partner began speaking with potential clients more than a year ago when a client came forward wanting to locate a building to operate a dispensary. Henne said back then about 10 to 15 sites existed but now there are as few as three or four.

"There is a real use for medical marijuana and Arizona laws, the way the law is written has been formulated that it's stricter, tougher to do than any place in the country," he said.

In Pima County zoning requirements dictate that a dispensary be more than 1,000 feet away from a church, library, park, any type of school or rehabilitation center.

Henne said all of the clients gave up except for two, "it seems our politicians are more inclined to do what they want than what the public has voted for."

According to Henne, many of the clients became frustrated with finding a location, the expenses involved and trying to find a landlord who would lease to that use. He says ideally tenants would want land that is approved and a building that already exists.

George Larsen owns about 40 business properties in Tucson and would not risk accepting any offers though it was tempting, "we thought about it because the medical marijuana operators said the would pay over the normal rent, the highest rents in the community."

But for Larsen it just wasn't worth it because other tenants in properties feared the unknown and worried about the clientele a dispensary would attract. Larsen, himself worries how the federal government will interpret Arizona's new law, "the problem has been that California set a bad example and in California it was clearly abused for people who wanted to be dopers."

The state will begin awarding dispensary certificates on August 7th, if more than one entity is seeking the location in a community the state will hold a drawing.

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