Medical Weed

Ponderosa Dispensary wants the city to allow it to expand its operations in West Chandler. (special to the Arizonan)

The Chandler medical marijuana dispensary that pushed for an ordinance change didn’t take long to act on it.

Ponderosa Dispensary wants the city to allow it to expand its operations in West Chandler. The city Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-1 on April 5 to recommend approval to council.

Ponderosa’s plans to add cultivation and infusion to the current dispensary, placing all three of the allowed medical marijuana types of businesses under one roof. It can do that because of a citizen initiative to change the city’s ordinances that Council approved on Feb. 9. That initiative was launched by Ponderos, which filed a citizen’s petition for the change..

Commissioner Erik Morgan voted against the recommendation, saying he was concerned about how close Ponderosa is to a children’s restaurant, Chuck E. Cheese. He also expressed concerns that Ponderosa would be allowed to sell recreational marijuana under state law if it obtains a dual license.

“I personally don’t know, but I feel like a sale of medical marijuana right around the corner from a children’s ... restaurant and play place isn’t necessarily the best image,” Morgan said.

Commissioner Sherri Koshiol was absent.

Ponderosa is located at 318 S. Bracken Lane, behind and to the east of the Chandler Hilton and Chuck E. Cheese on Frye Road near the Loop 101 Price Road Freeway.

Chandler Planning Administrator Kevin Mayo said it is only the second time he can recall citizens bringing forth a proposed change to the city’s zoning ordinances.

The previous time was the failed 2013 effort to allow backyard chickens in residential areas.

If Council approves, the new facility would allow Ponderosa to grow marijuana in just under 5,000 square feet in the back, and then infuse it into other products in less than 5,000 square feet in the center of their building. The current 2,500 square feet in front would remain the dispensary.

The space currently behind the dispensary has been used for offices. Ponderosa is planning on moving its offices to a new building if Council approves.

Chandler has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana zoning ordinances in the Valley. In fact, Ponderosa is the only dispensary on city land.

There are other dispensaries within the city’s boundaries, but they are on county islands and face fewer restrictions from Maricopa County.

The city mandates dispensaries be located far from residential neighborhoods, schools, daycare facilities, and other similar locations. That limits where they can operate.

Mayo said city staff recommended approval because the request complies with city codes and there was no stated public opposition.

The measure will next go to City Council for their consideration.

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