• January 15, 2021

Arizona Recreational Marijuana Law Goes Into Effect Today

Recreational marijuana is legal in the U.S. state of Arizona as of today. Proposition 207, also called the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, was approved by Arizona voters and will legalize marijuana possession and use by adults 21 and older.

marijuana store
Credit: Alex Person

The new takes effect today, Nov. 30, and also allows for the creation of establishments to sell recreational marijuana. However, not all of Arizona’s cities are excited about the new rules. Scottsdale could be the latest Arizona municipality to ban most recreational marijuana sales and cultivation within city limits before Prop 207 goes into effect.

Scottsdale’s City Council will consider a new ordinance to heavily restrict recreational marijuana sales in the city and ban its use on public property. The proposed ordinance would prohibit the sale and transportation of recreational marijuana except by a licensed medical marijuana dispensary.

Scottsdale would also ban marijuana testing facilities except for independent third-party labs that are certified and already authorized by the state. Prop 207 allows medical marijuana dispensaries to apply for state permission to sell recreational weed.

Cities must allow existing dispensaries to “to operate a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary and a marijuana establishment cooperatively at shared locations,” the new law states. Scottsdale’s proposed ordinance would also ban the use of marijuana in public spaces, including bars, common areas at apartment buildings, entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants and stores.

Council’s approval of the ordinance would put Scottsdale among a small but growing list of Arizona cities and towns choosing to impose similar bans. Both Gilbert and Sahuarita approved their own bans in October before voters even approved Prop 207.

Payson Town Council also passed its own ordinance in October allowing existing medicinal dispensaries to sell recreational pot and giving the Council strict oversight over new recreational outlets, according to the Payson Roundup.

The proposed Scottsdale ordinance appears positioned to pass when it goes before Scottsdale Council on Monday. The ordinance was placed on its consent agenda, which is typically reserved for non-controversial items that require no discussion.

Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield indicated she would support the measure. “I believe limiting recreational marijuana sales to existing medical dispensaries is reasonable and within the context of the law,” she said.

Even if Council approves the ordinance, the city could amend it at a later date to allow recreational marijuana operations. According to a City Council report, the quick implementation of Prop 207 necessitates the adoption of strict restrictions at the local level.

City staff is recommending the proposed ordinance as a stopgap until it can further study the impact of expanded use on the city. “Scottsdale should consider implementing the full prohibitions and regulations Proposition 207 allows now…and come back later to potentially add additional recreational marijuana uses and allowances in the future once the City can better study and analyze how to safely and effectively do so in a way that does not disrupt the public peace, health or safety,” the report states.

The ordinance is already having a trickle- down effect in Scottsdale. On Nov. 18, the applicant behind a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in the city’s Entertainment District asked the city Planning Commission to delay a hearing on the project, citing the pending ordinance.