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Yuma City Council introduces recreational marijuana regulations

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CBS 13's April Hettinger examines the rules governing the city's newest cash crop

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Wednesday's City Council meeting addresses the "Smart and Safe Arizona Act" to allow recreational marijuana.

The City of Yuma plans to lay out the rules for when the measure takes effect in January of 2021.

Arizona residents approved Proposition 207 in November legalizing recreational marijuana.

But, it will be up to local jurisdictions to come up with how to enforce the measure.

Prop 207 sparked a heated discussion at Wednesday's City Council Meeting. Councilmembers voted in favor of changing the ordinance to prohibit testing facilities within city limits.

Councilmember Gary Knight proposed the amendment which would ban those facilities that test for levels of THC and pesticide contaminants.

"It just means they can't set up a laboratory testing facility within the city limits of Yuma," Councilmember Knight said. "It doesn't keep them... it's up to the county whether or not they will be able to do it within the county."

Deputy Mayor Karen Watts said 'nay' to keep the ordinance as written, allowing marijuana testing facilities, saying banning them will cause health concerns.

"I think that's a mistake. It's about consumer safety. I just get a little bit worried when, I think that labeling is important, Deputy Mayor Watts explained. "I think that knowing what the concentration is and what people are buying."

But this doesn't mean dispensaries are off the hook for testing. It just means it will be done elsewhere.

Mayor Nicholls is against testing facilities because he doesn't want Yuma to turn into a marijuana midpoint.

"It's more about, for me, it's about not promoting Yuma as, you know, we're the lettuce capital of the world we don't want to be some other capital," Mayor Nicholls said. "I think we really need to focus our industries in a different area."

Councilmember Ema Lea Shoop says the prop only passed because the state used three key words as bait.

"Whenever you put 'education' or 'public safety' or 'roads,' people are going to sign it because they're going to think there's a big pot of money for those three things," Councilmember Shoop stated.

And, that 16% tax? Councilmember Knight says Yuma won't see a penny of that money.

"It's still illegal on the federal level, so they can't use banks. They have to collect the money in cash," Councilmember Knight said. "Do you honestly believe the city is going to see any revenue from a cash sale of marijuana?"

Locals are not allowed to smoke or use marijuana in areas owned or controlled by the City of Yuma.

Violations will be considered a petty offense.

It will also not be allowed at restaurants or in outdoor areas.

Adults 21 and older will be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants with no more than 12 per household.

But, they must be kept in a closet, room or greenhouse with a lock to prevent minors from getting access.

Retail licensing is also being addressed, including how much it will cost to get a license.

The ordinance will be formally adopted later this month.

Local News / Top Stories / Yuma County
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April Hettinger

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