Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

At a recent city council workshop further medical marijuana dispensary restrictions were considered. Councilmember Ray Malnar, as a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI), asked for a more explicit definition of “schools.” It will be brought back to council again in the near future because Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Tolmachoff said that the proposed definition of schools was too restrictive. Here is an article from Your Valley Net: https://yourvalley.net/yourvalley/government/glendale-council-to-decide-if-pot-dispensaries-must-separate-from-more-than-just-schools/ .

I guess another background narrative is in order. In the state-wide November 2, 2010 election voters weighed in on Proposition 203, approving the use of medical marijuana by 50.13%. That’s a slim margin but it is all that was needed to permit the use of medical marijuana throughout the state. In order to implement this new mandate, the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) created approximately 126 Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAA). One dispensary is allowed per CHAA. Here is a map of all of the CHAAs in the state.

CHAA map

I said something during the city council discussion I had read somewhere and it resonated with me. That was, “It is one thing to permit marijuana but it is another to promote it.  I am not interested in doing anything to promote marijuana.” I think it is a good concept to adopt and so I have.

 Cities have no choice. Voters have approved it use and the state mandates that cities may not prohibit a dispensary in any CHAA. Cities can, however, use their zoning authority to regulate the location of dispensaries…but that’s about all the authority a city has.

Federal research on the effects of marijuana is in its infancy despite its use (legal or illicit) for many years.  As more states have authorized its use, medically and now recreationally, the federal government is pursuing greater research on its use and the effects of such use.

Preliminary results suggest that marijuana is not a gateway drug. It appears if one is predisposed to use marijuana the disposition to graduate to harder drugs is already there. That preliminary conclusion is at least comforting. Other preliminary data is not so comforting.

It appears that marijuana can have negative effects on the brains of adolescents. These effects can include and are not limited to:

  • Changes to the brain’s structure (including size and how areas are connected)
  • Lower quality of brain connections
  • Less blood flow to parts of the brain

Preliminary research has demonstrated it’s possible that marijuana use can hurt brain functions in teens. Marijuana use in teens has been shown to lower IQ scores and create poor memory and attention. These findings are important because young people’s brains are building the connections to improve executive functioning ( self-control, creative thinking, and decision-making skills). Do we really want to encourage a generation of “dumb-downed” teens?

In consideration of these preliminary research findings I am not inclined to promote the use of marijuana. By broadening the definition of schools we, as a city, will discourage the location of an “attractive nuisance” close to all types of schools.

Why bother? Well, not everyone who patronizes a marijuana dispensary may be a pillar of the community and an upstanding citizen. It has been reported previously that there is a growing industry of “pot doctors” who locate nearby dispensaries and are prone to facilitate the approval of medical marijuana cards to those who ordinarily would not qualify for such a card.

I also think it’s not OK to trivialize the use of marijuana in order to make it so acceptable within our society. As our society changes rapidly not all that comes with change is in and of itself good. Are we becoming a society that promotes individual indulgence no matter the consequences?

© Joyce Clark, 2019         


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