Gilbert declares medical marijuana 'emergency'

Posted at 11:01 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 02:01:57-04

An emergency exists regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, the Gilbert Town Council voted Thursday night.

The Council used an emergency clause to put into immediate effect a change in town law.

The vote caps at two the number of dispensaries that can operate in the town.

One dispensary currently operates in Gilbert, the town’s attorney said.

Two dispensaries was the cap for the town under previous state regulations, but that number could have grown if shops from other areas moved to Gilbert, town documents said.

The Thursday vote blocks that possibility.

Town leaders did not want to see a sudden influx of dispensaries, Mayor John W. Lewis said after the vote.  The emergency clause was added to put the change into effect immediately, Lewis said.

Tempe adopted a similar measure in December, but without an emergency clause.

Dispensaries that have operated for three years can move to a new location in a different town, creating the potential for more medical marijuana shops, town documents said.

If a pending ballot initiative gains enough valid signatures, a statewide referendum on marijuana legalization could be before Arizona voters in November.