Flagstaff Nixes Pot Dispensary Next To Pot-Themed Restaurant


Photo: Jesse Kasten/The Lumberjack
Flagstaff, Arizona’s Cheba Hut is a friendly haven for the high and hungry. But plans to located a medical marijuana dispensary next door have been derailed by city officials.

​Aw, man. It would have been so perfect.

Locating a medical marijuana dispensary next to a sandwich shop known for its stoner-friendly atmosphere and its subs named after strains of cannabis? Genius idea, and good for both businesses.
Several ganjapreneurs evidently had the same idea, even going to far as to secure a letter of intent from the landlord to rent them the commercial space next to the Cheba Hut in Flagstaff, Arizona. Cheba Hut markets to stoners, winkingly putting in quotes “Toasted” Subs and featuring “palm trees” in its logo that look quite a bit like cannabis leaves. Oh, and check out alllll that smoke pouring out the chimney.

Graphic: Cheba Hut
“Toasted” Subs, get it? And look at those palm tree leaves. And allll that smoke comin’ out the chimney…

​But, alas: City officials have rejected one formal zoning application and have “informally discouraged” others from submitting similar applications, arguing the site is too close to a nearby Montessori preschool, reports Joe Ferguson at the Arizona Daily Sun.
City zoning requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries require the shops to be located at least 500 feet away from the nearest school, college, alcohol/drug abuse rehabilitation facility, library, childcare center or park.
But how Flagstaff measures the distance from any of those facilities has come under attack from a local attorney representing several prospective dispensaries, including one business that wanted to open next door to Cheba Hut.
Flagstaff calculates the distance by measuring from the parcel boundary of the entire shopping center, and attorney Lee Phillips has asked the city to instead measure from where the dispensary would be located — a perfectly logical and reasonable request.
In the case of the strip mall where the Cheba Hut franchise is located, it will make the difference between “yes” and “no” with city officials.

Photo: Super Lawyers
Attorney Lee Phillips has asked the City of Flagstaff to to recalculate its measurement to reflect where the dispensary would actually be located

​The southern edge of the property is less than 500 feet from the school, while the northern edge where the dispensary wants to locate would be far enough away to get city approval.
No fewer than a dozen different applicants have received a letter of intent from the landlord to rent out the commercial space if they receive a dispensary license from the state late this year, according to Phillips.
Because only one dispensary license will be awarded for west Flagstaff, the property can issue multiple letters of intent for the same site to different businesses.
Phillips sent a letter Thursday asking the city to immediately review its procedures. He noted dispensaries have only until June 30 to get a letter from the city confirming that their proposed location would comply with the zoning ordinance and send it to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The ADHS is expected to issue, by mid-August, one license for each of 126 designated areas in Arizona, with two inside the city and another near Flagstaff in the county. 
City Manager Kevin Burke said he was “aware” of the Phillips’s letter and said the zoning policies are “now being reviewed” by planning staff.
At least one other proposed dispensary location was nixed by the city for being too close to a school in the past few weeks. The city rejected a concept plan to open a dispensary in the Kachina Square Shopping Center on Steves Boulevard because it was too close to the College America campus in the same strip mall.
Only three possible medical marijuana dispensary sites have so far been approved by Flagstaff:
• 4401 North Highway 89
• 1110 East Route 66
• 2010 East Route 66