Many of the comments that we received at the public hearings were about how we’ll evaluate and award the dispensary licenses. Many of the questions were about zoning, so here’s a brief summary of how the zoning part will work:
The final rules outline a 2-step process whereby applicants enter into a competitive screening in each Community Health Analysis Area (CHAA) for a dispensary Registration Certificate, followed by a build out and inspection before receiving an Operating License from ADHS. Each dispensary applicant will be required to sign an attestation that the address that they are applying under is in accordance with local zoning (note that this doesn’t mean that they need to establish whether they have a special or conditional use permit). Without that attestation that they are in accord with local zoning, they don’t qualify for further consideration for the initial Registration Certificate.
If there’s more than one qualified applicant per CHAA, we will screen the applicants through a series of residency and financial history criteria. If there are “ties” at the end of the screening criteria between 2 or more applicants, we will randomly select the successful applicant. At that point, one applicant per CHAA will have a Registration Certificate. The Registration Certificate holder is authorized to proceed with their “build out” (but not dispense). Prior to operating, certificate holders will need to show full documentation that they’re in accord with local zoning including evidence of their conditional or special use permit and their certificate of occupancy (if these are required). Once these and many administrative and security criteria are satisfied they will get their Operating License from the ADHS
Once an applicant has been awarded a Registration Certificate, they’re allowed to move their dispensary inside their CHAA (subject to local zoning approval, Department approval, and paying our $2,500 fee). The Registration Certificate holder is also allowed to move their dispensary location (inside the CHAA) after they receive their Operating License.
After 3 years, licensees may move their dispensary anywhere in the State (again subject to local zoning approval, Department approval, and the fee). Each year, the Department will determine how many additional licenses can be issued and will allocate the licenses to applicants with the following priorities: 1st to a county without a dispensary; 2nd to CHAAs without a dispensaries; and finally with a formula that targets areas with higher densities of qualified patients.