Kristin Ito, concerned resident and business owner
Will Humble, director of AZ Dept. of Health Services
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Some Valley residents and the Arizona Department of Health Services aren't too happy with a judge's ruling giving medical marijuana dispensaries more time to set up shop.
Aug. 7 was the deadline for dispensaries to renew their licenses, and if they weren't already up and running, they'd be out of luck. But a judge ruled that deadline is out the window.
Last summer, the Arizona Department of Health awarded medical marijuana registrations through a lottery. Dispensaries had until next week to open for business, but thanks to a lawsuit, that deadline is no longer looming.
"In any new industry, especially one that's in a gray area, there are always roadblocks and pitfalls," said Bruce Bedrick, the chief executive officer of the medical marijuana consulting and technology company Medbox.
He said many of the dispensaries couldn't get up and running by Aug. 7 because they were pigeonholed by zoning ordinances.
"That's not necessarily the case that people chose spots that were close to a school or a church or a park," Bedrick said.
So they argued the deadline that they had to be up and running or lose their license forever was unfair, and now a judge agrees.
"Those clients are ecstatic, absolutely," Bedrick said.
"I disagree with the ruling but we're going to comply with it," said Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
He said they will go back to the drawing board and create a new set of rules, and that will likely take six to 18 months.
"In the meantime, we'll be renewing registration certificates of those folks that were unable to get it done within the first year," Humble said.
It's a decision that also doesn't sit well with some Valley residents and business owners.
"My husband and I have a dental office, and the marijuana dispensary that holds the certificate for Ahwatukee was going to open up two doors down from our suite," said Kristin Ito. She said she's concerned her customers wouldn't feel comfortable going to the dentist a few doors down from the medical marijuana dispensary. She said she's been attending all of the community meetings, and while the dispensary didn't open up near her business, she feels she's fighting a losing battle.
"We're having to spend a lot of time and energy standing up for ourselves in the community, and dragging this process on is really a hardship," Ito said.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.