Nirvana Center Dispensaries is looking to bring its first Tucson location to Park Avenue and Benson Highway. The Arizona-based marijuana dispensary group held the first neighborhood meeting to get feedback from residents on March 6th at the Quincy Douglas Center.

Cindy Ayala has been an active member in the community for many years through her work as the Pueblo Gardens Neighborhood Association president. After nearly 20 years, she recently stepped down from president, but she’s still involved in what’s going on around her home. That’s why she attended the meeting on March 6th.

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The four neighborhoods were represented at this meeting, and theres a lot of people who were not happy about it, said Ayala.

I dont think there was one person there who said this was a good idea, her husband, Robert Ayala, agreed.

Ayala and her husband stood firmly against a marijuana dispensary being built in the area because of the history of crime in the area. She remembered the two homicides in 2023 at the Minsk Hotel, and the Ocotillo Apartments being condemned in the fall of last year. Both properties are across the street from where the dispensary is looking to build.

You dont want to put that into a crime-infested area, said Ayala. And this would only make it worse.

Ayala is also very involved in the work to bring certain developments and businesses to the area. With the Tucson Marketplace on the other side of the freeway, Ayala said she wanted to protect what it represents for the surrounding neighborhoods.

I have nothing against marijuana dispensaries, I know theyre in different parts of town, I see them, however, were getting cleaner, were getting better, its happening. The good stuff is happening, finally happening, for this part of town. And it needs to continue. The dispensary, I honestly would have to say, would be a black eye, she said.

The process for Nirvana Center Dispensaries to purchase the property at 880 E. Benson Highway includes what’s required by the City of Tucson’s Special Exception Land Use permit. This allows properties like this one, zoned as “Commercial,” to have marijuana dispensaries as long as they comply with standards including: minimum distance requirements from schools, parks, public libraries, residential substance abuse treatment facilities or licensed rehabilitation facilities, and other marijuana dispensaries. The neighborhood meetings are also required in the process.

Nirvana Center Dispensaries is represented by Lazarus & Silvyn P.C. as the group begins the purchase process. Rory Juneman spoke on behalf of his firm’s client to share their position on how this could better the area.

This is a property has been vacant for over a decade. Our client says this would be millions of dollars of investment in this corner, to take down the current building and build a new building, to make it really a nice looking corner for this area, said Juneman.

He also responded to Ayala’s concerns of having the Pima JTED School nearby, which she believed could make it easy for students to find a way to purchase marijuana.

Its a highly regulated store where people who are 21 and older can come in and purchase, but people that arent, arent going to be let in and arent going to be welcome, said Juneman.

Nirvana Center Dispensaries has decided to slow down the process as the group continues conversations with the community.