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Scottsdale may soon have drive-thru marijuana dispensaries if officials agree to tweak the city’s weed regulations on Tuesday, part of a proposal that has received pushback from Planning Commission members who are urging the City Council to reject the idea.
Scottsdale legalized recreational dispensaries in June 2021. Five stores and one cultivation facility have cropped up citywide since then, although how they can operate is heavily limited by about a dozen regulations included in Scottsdale’s pot policy.
Dispensaries must get licensed with the city, submit a “written public safety plan” before opening their doors, be at least 500 feet away from schools or homes and can only operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The 2021 regulations also explicitly banned cannabis drive-thrus, even though other sizable communities across Arizona — including Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson — have not imposed the same restrictions on their weed businesses. Plus, drive-up liquor stores exist throughout Scottsdale.
A local dispensary called Harvest Scottsdale is asking the city to ease up. The business, just east of Scottsdale Airport, wants officials to nix the drive-thru ban at the Oct. 10 City Council meeting. The owners contend that the change would both boost the speed of service and help customers who can’t physically enter the shop.
“Not unlike Arizona's allowance for other drive-thru uses, this option at a dispensary allows for faster transaction times, and importantly, allows for our most Immunocompromised patients to receive their medicine without exposing themselves to In-person shopping,” the dispensary’s parent company, Trulieve, wrote in its request to Scottsdale leaders.
Scottsdale dispensaries won’t automatically be entitled to build a drive-thru if officials scrap the ban, however. Each will still need to request and receive a change to the conditions of their city operating permits. Aside from Harvest, city staffers aid the eligible stores include:
Sol Flower Dispensary: 14980 N. 78th Way
Trulieve Cannabis Dispensary: 7320 E. Butherus Drive
Curaleaf: 16277 N. Greenway Hayden Loop
Medmen: 8729 E. Manzanita Drive
But getting the policy change passed on Tuesday might be an uphill battle for the Harvest dispensary.
The proposal was poorly received by Scottsdale’s Planning Commission in July. Its members voted 4-2 against supporting the policy because of concerns that it would make “drive-through operations possible at every dispensary and that state law does not specifically address drive-through facilities for marijuana establishments,” according to a city memo.
Still, the City Council has the final say and could choose to ignore the commission’s recommendation. But easing restrictions on the weed business in Scottsdale may not be an easy sell for the largely conservative body of elected officials who already imposed strict guidelines in 2021 and have made preserving Scottsdale’s upscale character a top priority.
“The question I'm going to be asking myself is, does this add to Scottsdale's appeal as a high-end tourism destination?” said Councilmember Barry Graham, who is undecided on the issue.
The City Council will vote on dispensary drive-thrus at its 5 p.m. meeting on Oct. 5. Harvest Scottsdale’s operating permit is also up for renewal on Tuesday, so the dispensary could become the first in the city to receive drive-thru permission that evening.