By Mark Carlisle
Glendale medical marijuana card holders are one step closer to being able to have marijuana delivered to their doorstep.
The Glendale Planning Commission approved a zoning text amendment last week that would allow medical marijuana deliveries in Glendale. City Council must vote on the change in a meeting next year before it becomes law.
Delivery services from other Valley cities where medical marijuana delivery is legal can legally deliver into Glendale. Those cities include Phoenix, Sun City, Tolleson, Laveen, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Tempe and Mesa. There are also illegal services that transport marijuana within Glendale.
Planning Administrator David Williams said two key reasons for staff’s recommendation to approve the amendment were to decrease the use of illegal delivery services and to increase origin-based sales tax revenue by allowing legal deliveries from Glendale dispensaries rather than from the next town over.
“We see a positive economic benefit, not huge, but some additional tax dollars,” Mr. Williams. “We did look at both sides, and we understand that this is a controversial issue. So, our recommendation for approval was not arrived at lightly, but we still had mixed feelings as well. But we would like for businesses like this to operate legally and responsibly and accountability in our city.”
The Planning Commission followed staff’s recommendation and approved the amendment 6-1 in its Thursday, Dec. 6 meeting. Acting Chairman Gary Hirsch was the only dissenting vote.
Glendale City Council normally meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. However, the second meeting of December was canceled due to it falling on Christmas day, putting Council’s next meeting date in 2019. No date has been scheduled for the issue to come before Council.
Deliverers would still need to follow state laws regarding medical marijuana deliveries. Deliverers would be employees of state-licensed dispensaries, who all must undergo FBI background checks. Patients are limited to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Vehicles cannot have any mention of marijuana or the dispensary name, and the delivered products must be sealed and not visible — carried in a paper bag mandated by the state.
Deliverers also must confirm a patient’s medical marijuana status with the state at three different steps along the way — when the order is placed, before the order is sent out and before the order is given to the patient.
There are four state-licensed dispensaries in Glendale.
The amendment was brought before the Planning Commission by Supurb Solutions, LLC, a company that offers delivery software to licensed dispensaries. The dispensary employees deliver the product.
Supurb co-founder and managing partner Justin Schudel described the software as an “Uber-like platform” when presenting before the commission.
Mr. Schudel played a TV news report for the commission that showed how Supurb had delivered medical marijuana to a woman with cancer, whose said her pain is so bad on some days that she cannot get out of bed.
In addition to sickness and immobility, Mr. Schudel said medical marijuana patients might prefer delivery because of a lack of transportation, time issues, privacy, convenience or safety, saying the option of delivery will lessen the likelihood that some patients would consume the product on the drive home from the dispensary. He also said delivery would decrease loitering around dispensaries and their surrounding businesses.
Mr. Schudel pointed to the amount of medical marijuana card-holders — 178,000 patients, according to an August report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Illegal marijuana delivery services are “thriving” in the Valley, according to Mr. Schudel, who argued that illegal activity will decrease as legal options increase.
“This is our industry’s biggest competition, which we want to eliminate,” he said.