Marijuana debate comes to a head - Tucson News Now

Marijuana debate comes to a head

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By Bud Foster - email

Barbara LaWall won't say she was set up. "Those are your words," she says with a laugh.

But it was apparent to the small group who stuck around for the medical marijuana presentation at the Tucson city council, that LaWall was caught off guard.

She presented her half hour power point presentation to the Tucson city council much the same as she had done for the Pima County Board of Supervisors, urging them to come up with some restrictive zoning laws to get ahead of the medical marijuana issue.

But apparently someone who heard the earlier presentation thought she needed a little schooling on the facts.

So just as she was launching into her power point, unbeknownst to her, Andrew Myers, the campaign manager for Proposition 203, the medical marijuana prop, walked into the chambers and sat down behind her.

He was furiously taking notes as she talked.

Councilmember Paul Cunningham called Myers to the podium just as the county attorney's office finished.

"Frankly, that was the most inaccurate portrayal of this initiative from a public official I've seen since I've been on the campaign," Myers said.

He never said she lied but said "she had to know what she was saying was wrong."

LaWall says zoning regulations are need to make sure dispensaries don't pop up willy-nilly like they have in California, especially L.A.

"Just in that city there are 545 marijuana dispensaries," she says. "Which someone figured out that's more than Starbucks and Subway Sandwich shops combined."

That's true but Myers pointed out that won't be the case in Arizona.

"I mean we absolutely cannot have a system here in Pima County like they had in Los Angeles county because there's a firm cap on the statewide number of dispensaries," says Myers. "There would be 124 dispensaries for the entire state."

LaWall also says people in L.A. can get a marijuana prescription for a headache.

That's true again but not in Arizona.

"We have a very strict conditions list. You have to have HIV or cancer or Krohns' disease or alzheimers or multiple schlorosis, a very distinct list of conditions," he says.

California passed a one page law in 1996 with virtually no restrictions and no rules. Arizona's law is 32 pages and takes lessons learned not only from California but from Colorado as well.

Myers believes the city and county should pass zoning laws to make sure the dispensaries remain in business districts and commercial zones and out of residential areas.  

The city agrees. It voted unanimously to move ahead with some zoning ordinances much the same as the county had done the day before.

"We have a lot we agree on. I wish they'd talk to me," said Myers.

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