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10/2/2012 10:35:00 AM
Marijuana dispensary gets green light in Williams
Williams City Council votes unanimously to allow medical marijuana facility on Route 66 at east end of town
Left: Ryan Schmitz voices his concerns regarding a medical marijuana facility on Route 66 in Williams during the Sept. 27 Williams City Council meeting. Top: Tim Moore, with Cannabis Research Group, listens to community response. Bottom: Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon discusses the dispensary’s location. Clara Beard/WGCN
Left: Ryan Schmitz voices his concerns regarding a medical marijuana facility on Route 66 in Williams during the Sept. 27 Williams City Council meeting. Top: Tim Moore, with Cannabis Research Group, listens to community response. Bottom: Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon discusses the dispensary’s location. Clara Beard/WGCN

Clara Beard
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Despite vocal resistance from the public against the possibility of a local medical marijuana dispensary on Route 66, the Williams City Council voted unanimously to approve the facility Sept. 27.

Cannabis Research Group (CRG) now has the go ahead to open a dispensary at 341 East Route 66 in the old Poquette Realty building via conditional use permit.

The facility will serve individuals in and around Williams with a medical marijuana card, but the majority of the dispensary's focus will be to provide medical marijuana to the research center's patients in Scottsdale at Desert Springs Cancer Care.

There are 60 registered medical marijuana users in the Williams area and 1,700 patients at Desert Springs Cancer Care with approximately 1,000 in clinical trials presently. None of those patients would be traveling to Williams to collect medical marijuana.

Mayor John Moore opened the meeting by explaining that after Proposition 203, Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act, was approved it became mandatory under state law to allow for dispensaries under city ordinances.

"We have to think about the legal issue not the moral issue," he said to members of the public, a number of whom were there to voice concern about the dispensary's downtown Route 66 location, its possible effect on the tourism industry and the message it might convey.

Local resident Ryan Schmitz, who also spoke out against the dispensary at the Sept. 20 P&Z meeting, said that if his biggest concern was safety, then he considers the zoning to be "fine." If it was the effect such an establishment might have on the tourist industry, then having no signage would be fine. But those weren't his biggest concerns.

"It's not about what's in the building, it's what is communicated about standards," Schmitz told council members. "It's an ideological Trojan horse, and the same has gone on with tons of morality, the more exposure you get to it, the more acceptable it becomes. I can tell you that as an ex-user, that it's not funny, and it's not just like alcohol."

In response to requests from the public to find a new location within Williams for the dispensary, Moore said there just aren't a lot of properly zoned usable options.

"We cannot pick and choose where we want our zoning permits to be," Moore said.

Williams Police Chief Herman Nixon said that the dispensary will be in a location his officers can easily patrol, therefore more practical than if it were placed in a residential area.

Williams resident Bobby Patricca asked the applicant, Tim Moore, if he was worried about future animosity shown towards the dispensary.

"We honestly didn't expect this type of reaction. We thought this would be a more open minded town that would say, 'yeah, that's a progressive idea, let's do that,'" Moore answered. "I don't mean to say that off-handedly at all, because we are very concerned about what people think, and I think what will happen is time will tell."

One member of the public, who attends council meetings regularly, spoke in support of the dispensary.

"I've read a lot about medical marijuana and dispensaries, and I support it," she said. "I wasn't sure I supported having one on Route 66 until I attended the P&Z meeting last week. This is something that is coming to Williams and I think it's coming in a good way at a very good place."

A marijuana cultivation site has yet to be determined but will not be located in the immediate area.

As for security, Tim Moore said all marijuana would be secured in a locked safe at all times barring when needed during working hours. Bars or security shutters will be installed inside the building as well. Video surveillance systems and alarm systems will also be installed.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Article comment by: Mack Mesmer

We will see at the next election how the MAJORITY of our town of Williams feels about having a marijuana shop on Rt 66. Until then I would like to direct your attention to corrupt Chicago. In the news today, 2 football field size worth of marijuana plants were found. Because of drugs, Chicago looks like a pit. Crime is ramped and there are so many drug related murders everyday that we don't even hear about all of them. It's too late for Chicago to look bright and sunny again, but its not too late for Williams. The only way we can be rid of the "weed" is to clean house and vote every last one of those city council members out. Lets nip this in the bud now before we end up like all the other corrupt cities in the States.

Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Article comment by: Howard Jarvis

Lots of "facts" being thrown around here. Bottom line is that the council didn't need to authorize the dispensary on Rt 66. It could have been placed in a more discreet area. The law also allows the sale of much more marijuana than any one person would ever use on a daily basis. So, we'll just have to guess how that excess will be used. I continue to be amazed how people compare multiple bad behaviors to somehow make one seem more palatable over another. Alcohol abuse, pot, coke, meth, pain killers, and all the rest can't be compared as one being better than the other. They are all bad and lead to problems in society. We'll all have to take a "wait and see" on the dispensary in Williams and others around the State. I doubt it will be as positive as an end result as many think now

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Bobby Patricca

Howard Jarvis, the comparison in the size of Williams vs. the size of Flagstaff isn't a valid comparison. It doesn't matter the size of the town. It is the districts drawn up by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Williams is in District 12. Each district will get a dispensary, period. We cannot change that.

For those who are opposed to drugs completely, I absolutely understand why you are opposed to this. Unfortunately, the law passed in 2010 ties the hands of city officials all around the state.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

I know,put the dispensary out there with the wind farm that nobody wanted!
So two more shops closed here in town. Sad! (jerky shops)

Oh please,dont live in du-nial,theres drug dealers in williams.Even if the cops bust someone,anouther takes theyre place.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: the truth

HAHAHAHA. WOOOOO HOOOOOOO. I cant wait to purchase my meds in williams. I have purchased marijuana in williams since high school (13 years ago) and we somehow made it through without becoming a ghost town. Marijuana has always been in Williams, now its just legal if you have a card. Nothing has changed. To say that the bars and security systems are an eyesore is very funny considering the route 66 inn, royal american inn, johns auto body etc... are such beautiful places. Just be honest. You dont want the dispensary because you are against pot. Its ok not to like pot. Stop making silly excuses. puff puff pass

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Doug Banfelder

What most opponents fail to realize or accept is that prohibitions create and maintain black markets. Marijuana used medicinally by patients poses no threat to a community as it is tightly regulated and out in the open, thereby making policing easier. BTW, these businesses are completely insurable, because no community in any MMJ state has seen an increase in related crime. Patients are not criminals, nor are the owners/operators of these businesses.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: ignorant posters

Keith: I wish they would have put it right next to your house instead. That would have been better. Oh wait, do you even live in Williams?

James: The whole council has been paid off? Prove it.

Jayne: What about the 3 places opening up in Flag? Is the whole town of Flag on dope too? Is the council and police in Flag getting kickbacks and payoffs too?

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Greg Burrows

I don't live in your state, but was reading an unrelated article and when I found this I had to comment. I am a social worker at a major hospital, working in a ER. I consider myself to be a front line expert on drugs, addiction and the social consequence of it all. I see first hand what drug addiction does to people, and I can tell you with absolutely NO reservations that, compared to all other drugs, and specifically in comparison to the accepted and legal drug of alcohol, marijuana is so much safer, non-addictive, and peaceful that anyone who thinks the opposite simply does not have extensive front line experience with it. Having watched teens DIE in the ICU after poisoning themselves with alcohol, watched people have seizures and die during withdrawal, watched them fail treatment over and over because the addiction is so powerful, or attack staff while intoxicated, etc., I know better. I have NEVER experienced any of this due to marijuana use, NOT ONCE. While anything can be done to excess and cause problems (like eating too much, or exercising too much, etc), marijuana simply does not create this condition in people to a FRACTION of the degree that alcohol can and does. I'm sure in our vast world of human experience there are exceptions to the rule, and someone will chime in that they are recovered marijuana "addicts", but frankly until you see someone whithering while restrained to a hospital bed and seizing due to withdraw from alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines (valum, Xanax, etc), or watching their resting heart rate running in the 150s from cocaine use, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. Any crime involved with marijuana is a DIRECT result of its illegal status, somewhat as it was with prohibition (unfortunately alcohol was already here, and while some understood the consequences of use, nobody was aware of the physically addictive qualities to the degree we understand now. Violent crime occurred DIRECTLY from use, unlike marijuana). The war on marijuana is a total failure, a huge waste of taxpayer money, and a diversion of vitally needed funds for real threats to society, like human trafficking or child porn. I am hopeful that the legalization of marijuana will actually DECREASE the incidents of addiction to much more dangerous drugs in our society. Inform yourself and research the medical FACTS about marijuana and how it compares to all other drugs, then tell me which ones you want to be legal. Or better yet, go to an ER and see for yourself what legal drugs like alcohol and Xanax does to people, talk to ER nurses and doctors, and come to your own INFORMED decisions. I say ANYONE who reads this and disagrees while drinking a beer is simply a hypocrite and a fool.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Darleen Payne

I too am an AZ native & never thought we would be discussing this matter, never thought it would happen. But it has & we have to deal with it. Remember, we are not talking about illegal drugs here.
The exception I take to your letter Jayne is that you are basing your judgement of Williams on what your neighbor told you? That sounds like two old busy-bodies that have nothing better to do than gossip over the fence! Then you accuse the public officials of taking bribes from drug dealers, comical.
The crime in Tucson has nothing to do with Williams & is due to completely different circumstances being located on the border. We won't go there....
As far as Williams being THE illegal drug dealing town in Northern AZ I'm afraid we have to concede to Flagstaff on that one. But that's ok, we still like to go to Flag, and I don't think it would matter if we didn't! Just like it really doesn't matter if you frequent our little town or not.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: What a shame what happened to Jayne

Jayne, Flagstaff has three approved marijuana dispensaries, was you aware of this. Are you going to move from Flagstaff?

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Bobby Patricca

Yes, Keith, this was a done deal when the state board drew up the dispensary districts. They drew them up in such a way that they hope to keep the number of people growing their own to a minimum. A dispensary was going to be in Williams no matter what, according to state law and the state health board. Policing it and making sure they keep their business on the straight and narrow is up to us as citizens and our police.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Howard Jarvis

Time to pull the biggest "weeds" in Williams, the paid off town council members for a start. How quickly this all happened, right under our noses. Notice how everyone wore a shirt and tie for our town council meeting. Moore even wore his best black tee shirt and shaved. Looks classy! The police really have stopped the drugs in Arizona. What makes you think they'll do it in Williams.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Howard Jarvis

Well now, the last time I checked flag was 25 times larger than Williams so the comparison of 3 to 1 Bobby really doesn't do you much good. Red Flag number 1- what business would make money with 12 customers? Red Flag number 2 - Who is this Moore character? Did you see what he looked like and how he was dressed - a real operator. Red Flag number 3 - the town council ignored any reasonable alternative to the main drag location. I agree with some of the other comments in believing that this was a done deal long before it went public. Our city is corrupt and we need a change in leadership ASAP!

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Keith Wilmot

I totally agree with you Jayne and have said so. This was a done deal before any official meeting took place. We have a bunch of sleazy local politicians and a sleazy "businessman" taking advantage of honest hard working residents. I was only asking that they hide the facility and keep it off our nice tourist streets. Now it's smack dab Route 66. Note to members of Town Council: WE WILL NOT FORGET THIS AT THE NEXT ELECTION.

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Article comment by: Bobby Patricca

Jayne, I hope you are aware that Flagstaff is set to get not one, not two, but THREE medical marijuana dispensaries. I can't wait to see what your neighbor has to say about Flagstaff after that.

One point that was made by our police chief at this meeting that I found interesting was that if we do NOT have this dispensary, any cardholder in Williams can grow up to 12 plants themselves. Multiply that by 60 cardholders, that is 720 pot plants that would be grown in our city in residential areas. That doesn't count "caregiver" plants, either. By having this dispensary, that is 720 less pot plants being grown by citizens, where who knows where it would go.

As for your swipe about Williams, sounds like the typical Flagstaff looking down their noses at us attitude. I had enough of Flag 5 years ago after their lead newspaper reporter ran a very derogatory article about the 5 kids who died out south due to underage drinking/drunk driving before their bodies were even in the ground that was insulting to their families and their friends.

Thanks for your boycott, what are you going to do when your town gets its THREE dispensaries as allocated by state law and the state medical board?

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