AZ: Sun City Marijuana Dispensary Marks 18 Months In Community

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Sun City, Ariz. – White Mountain Health Center opened its doors in January 2015 as the first medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City.

About 18 months later, the dispensary has built a strong relationship with the community, and it plans to provide even more for the senior-living enclave.

White Mountain has sustained success on leafly.com – the main search engine for locating dispensaries. It has been among the Top 10 in Arizona since January, and crept into the Top 2 in the last two months, reaching No. 1 at times.

President Butch Williams credits the center’s success to its patients, mainly Baby Boomers and retirees with an average age over 65.

“(They’re) receiving some relief from their ailments or current medications,” he said. “We even have one of our patients who was able to get her driver’s license back due to being able to get rid of some of the prescription medication she was prescribed, prohibiting her from driving.”

Mr. Williams did not disclose the number of patients going through the dispensary’s doors, but said it is one of the highest frequented dispensaries in Arizona.

Sun City has opened its arms to the dispensary. Even Sheriff Joe Arpaio has dropped by to speak to residents.
Kathy Inman, a member of All Saints of the Desert Episcopal Church, started MomForce AZ to help seniors in Sun City learn about the efficacy of marijuana.

“They’re all curious and they come in wondering, and they love that we’re there,” Mr. Williams said. “We’ve never had one issue or one complaint. We’re very pleased with the reception we’ve had.”

In 2015, White Mountain wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City. Under Ariz. Admin. Code R9-17-101 to R9-17-323 (2012), Arizona has 126 Community Health Care Analysis Areas or CHAA. Each CHAA can have only one dispensary. To open the dispensary, an applicant must obtain a Registration Certificate and then the applicant must submit a zoning certificate to the Arizona Department of Health Services approving the proposed location of the dispensary.

White Mountain Health Center could not get documentation from Maricopa County Zoning that the proposed site was appropriate, so it sued Maricopa County.

The Superior Court in Maricopa County eventually sided with White Mountain. Judge Michael Gordon said the dispensary had filed the necessary documentation for zoning and did not violate federal law, which the county and state claimed.

Since then, however, Mr. Williams said the dispensary has maintained a good relationship with both entities.
“Maricopa County staff has been nothing but helpful to the full extent,” he said. “We haven’t had one issue with any law enforcement. We haven’t had any issue with zoning or planning. Everybody’s been extremely cordial and helpful.”

Mr. Williams said White Mountain receives visitors from Gilbert, Tempe and Mesa, likely because of the dispensary’s quality and low prices among Valley competitors.

“We’re one of the only ones in Arizona that actually has a horticulturist with a true degree in horticulture running our grow facility,” he said. “It’s been quite interesting to see people travel a good hour and distance just to get some of the products we provide.”

Because they are licensed by the state, the employees maintain a strict following of the laws. They check each customer’s medical marijuana card through the Department of Health Services’ verification system. They verify whether the card is active, how much a person has used and how much he or she has left. People are limited to 2.5 ounces about every two weeks, which includes edibles and extractions. For example, a 180-milligram brownie would be deducted from a person’s allotment.

White Mountain is located at 9420 W. Bell Road, No. 108, Sun City. The dispensary has security guards, and employees go outside during the day to clean the parking lot and its surroundings.

“We have added value in that regard,” Mr. Williams said.

The dispensary’s board has done all this through self-funding.

“One of the biggest struggles we’ve had to overcome is figuring out how to do it on a limited budget,” Mr. Williams said. “How to do it correctly, and do it the best. The feedback and being on top of the Leafly list has been a huge opportunity to set an example for others. One thing that sets us apart is we take feedback very seriously from our patients and we adjust accordingly to what they’re looking for.”

White Mountain plans to offer deliveries within a five-mile radius for senior residents and retirees who cannot leave home but need the medication. Mr. Williams said they want to expand and remodel the inside of the facility to accommodate the number of patients coming in.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Sun City Marijuana Dispensary Marks 18 Months In Community
Author: Chris Caraveo
Contact: (623) 977-8351
Photo Credit: White Mountain Health Center
Website: Your West Valley