Prop 203: Cities Preparing for Medical Marijuana Stores; Plus, We Remind Arpaio of What He Said in 1998

Gilbert could have up to five medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Mesa expects as many as 10.

Officials in both east Valley cities expect to vote on zoning guidelines next month that prepare for the marijuana stores authorized by the passage of Proposition 203, according to an article published today in the East Valley Tribune. Bureaucrats want to make sure the number of dispensaries is limited, and that the stores aren't located near schools, day-care centers, parks, or churches. Other cities are considering similar rules, Trib reporter Dan Zeiger reports.

More than 120 dispensaries will be located statewide, thanks to Prop 203. As we reported yesterday, the state Department of Health Services will spend the next four months creating reasonable rules and regulations for the industry.

As far as we can tell, none of the proposed rules seem to restrict the spirit of Prop 203 -- yet.   

Still, it seems possible that anti-marijuana prohibitionists will have their way in the end by over-regulating the new law or planning an unexpected law enforcement effort. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio stated after the results came in that he wants to form a new posse to target people who "abuse" the medical-marijuana system.

However, in an interview last week with a TV station, Arpaio said he was saddened by the vote, but quipped "that's America."

In fact, the 78-year-old Arpaio might even recall that 12 years ago, he was a co-chair for the group that sponsored the successful Voter Protection Act and wrote an official "for" argument for it. The Act, which protects approved ballot measures from getting ravaged by state lawmakers without a 3/4 majority vote, was written -- and passed -- because of the bad things lawmakers did to Arizona's 1996 medical marijuana measure. Here's what Arpaio wrote back then:

YES 105 In Favor of the Voter Protection Alliance Act (11-C-98) The will of the people is the most important element of our government. Once an election takes place, votes can't be thrown away just because a few politicians don't like the results of an election. I believe Arizona voters are smart enough to know what they are voting for. I don't think the Legislature or the Governor should have the right to thwart or veto the will of the people. I urge you to vote Yes on the Voter Protection Act. It will preserve the will of the people in Arizona once and for all. Joe Arpaio, Sheriff Honorary Co-chair, Voter Protection Alliance Phoenix Paid for by Voter Protection Alliance; Richard Mahoney, Chairman

Of course, Arpaio also swore he'd only run one term (he's now on five) and once said he didn't think it was a good idea to arrest average illegal immigrants.

But maybe he still believes that "votes can't be thrown away just because a few politicians don't like the results of an election."