By John Hernandez
San Manuel Miner
Around 40 Oracle residents attended a public meeting held at the Oracle Community Center on Tuesday, Jan. 28. Representatives from the Pinal County Wellness Center hosted the meeting to inform the public about their intention to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Oracle. Residents were allowed to ask questions and make comments at the meeting. The group is not affiliated with Pinal County as the name of the company could lead one to believe.
Plans are for the Pinal Wellness Center to be located at 1880 W. American Ave. The empty building space is in the same plaza as Class’e Look’s n Oracle hair salon. The small building will be renovated and security cameras, alarms and lighting will be installed. A safe will be utilized to secure the marijuana after hours. The next steps in the approval process are a meeting with Pinal County Planning and Zoning and a public hearing with the County Board of Supervisors. Should the Wellness Center get approved, it could be open in August.
Oracle residents at the meeting were concerned about the medical marijuana dispensary attracting “undesirables” and crime to the area. They were also concerned with the security of the building. David Dow, attorney for the wellness center said that studies have shown that crime decreases in areas where there is a dispensary. A security guard working for Bloom Dispensary in Tucson was in attendance at the meeting. He said they have had no problems at their Oracle Road location. Bloom Dispensary will be managing the Pinal Wellness Center in Oracle if it gets approved to open.
The Pinal Wellness Center attempted to establish a location in Dudleyville. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors denied that application due to concerns about safety, crime, traffic issues and inadequate notice of a public meeting given to area residents. Dr. Glenn Wilt and David Dow also spoke in front of the Mammoth Town Council seeking an opportunity to locate the dispensary there. Some residents of Mammoth spoke out at the meeting and were adamantly against a dispensary locating in Mammoth. The town council was also opposed to it.
It was brought up in the Oracle meeting that Dr. Wilt has a reputation for not getting along with some town officials in the areas where he owns properties which includes the towns of Superior, Globe, and Hayden. The town officials have had to battle with him concerning the conditions of his properties. It has been reported that he has made promises to town officials and not kept them.
A few people at the meeting thought that the dispensary was already a done deal and had been approved. Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios was in the audience and explained to everyone that it was not a done deal and Pinal Wellness Center still had to go through planning and zoning and then go before the board of supervisors. The board of supervisors will take a look at all public input concerning the dispensary before making their decision at a public hearing. From listening to the people speaking at the meeting and talking with some Oracle residents, it appears that the people would rather not have the dispensary located in Oracle.
Pinal County currently has medical marijuana dispensaries in Eloy, Superior, Casa Grande, Coolidge, Apache Junction and Maricopa. There are an estimated 90 medical marijuana card holders in the San Manuel CHAA (Community Health Analysis Areas) in which Oracle is located. According to a representative from Bloom dispensary in Oro Valley, the average cost of an ounce of medical marijuana at their dispensary is $380. A card holder can purchase up to five ounces a month.