Saturday, February 19, 2011

3 doctors submit plans for upscale marijuana dispensary

Three doctors have submitted plans for Scottsdale's first medical-marijuana dispensary, which could be one of nine in the Northeast Valley.

The Virtue Center, at 7301 E. Evans Road in the Scottsdale Airpark, is seeking a use permit from the city.

It is expected to compete with other potential operators interested in opening a dispensary in northern Scottsdale.

The dispensary applicants are Drs. Richard Strand, Frank Tindall and Joel Colley and businessman Norman March, operating under a non-profit entity known as OF&C Corp., based in Scottsdale.

The Virtue Center's permit request could be reviewed by the Scottsdale Planning Commission on March 23 and then would go to the Scottsdale City Council, said Rich Court, a Rose Law Group attorney representing the applicants.

"Whether you're for or against the medical-marijuana initiative, these are the kind of guys that you want to do this," Court said. "They are established doctors who are in it for all the right reasons."

The principals have agreed to donate all profits to qualified charities, according to their use-permit application.

The Arizona Department of Health Services will not award medical-marijuana dispensary licenses until this summer, and Rich expects competition for the 126 licenses statewide.

Arizona voters approved Proposition 203 in November allowing medical-marijuana use.

ADHS has created 126 areas for medical-marijuana dispensaries - pot spots if you will - including two in Scottsdale. One would be permitted south of Doubletree Ranch Road and the other would serve northern Scottsdale, Carefree and Cave Creek.

9 pot spots in NE Valley

Overall, there could be as many as nine marijuana dispensaries in the Northeast Valley under the state rules, including one each in Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, the Salt River and Fort McDowell reservations and three areas of northeast Phoenix.

Operators must get zoning for their dispensaries and submit applications to the state by May 1. The state health department will have 30 days to review the applications.

If there is more than one qualified applicant in an area, ADHS will award the dispensary through a lottery.

The selected operators will have up to 10 months to make the required building improvements to their dispensaries, which include monitoring cameras, smoke detectors and other security precautions.

"The earliest you're going to see any dispensaries open is the fall," Rich said.

The Virtue Center, described as an upscale medical-marijuana dispensary, would operate in leased space in the Cornwell Business Center, a complex of office suites northeast of Scottsdale and Thunderbird roads.

Neighboring businesses include QuickStart, which provides ignition-interlocking devices for convicted drunken-drivers, as well as Parker Foods and the Scottsdale League for the Arts, which operates the Scottsdale Culinary Festival.

The applicants say they will operate the Virtue Center like any medical office with patients setting appointments to pick up their marijuana or food infused with marijuana.

Virtue Center's proposed location is more than 500 feet from any schools or residential zoning, which is a city requirement for dispensaries.

by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Feb. 18, 2011 08:30 AM

3 doctors submit plans for upscale marijuana dispensary

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