Arizona sets rules to nip problems surrounding medical marijuana in the bud

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March 29, 2011


By Al Ortiz

PHOENIX, Arizona: Medical marijuana consumption, production and distribution is happening in the state of Arizona. During the 2010 general election, registered voters decided to approve Proposition 203, with a slim margin of 50.1% to 49.9%, which will allow residents in the state with specific medical conditions to be treated with certain amounts of marijuana for personal use. The measure allows qualified patients and caregivers to purchase the drug from specific, closely watched clinics.

According to the provisions of the initiative, the Arizona Department of Health Services would be put in charge of regulating the sale and use of medical marijuana. They did just that. Months after the citizen-initiated ballot measure's approval, the rules governing the subject of medical marijuana have now been released. The department's approach to crafting those rules were aimed at making sure the newly passed medical marijuana program was not abused. According to Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, after the measure's passage, “We figured hey, if we put some true checks and balances in this system, we can actually make this a medical marijuana program and not a recreational marijuana program.”

The department released the rules on March 28, 2011. A small summary follows:

  • The effective date that the rules are to be put into effect is April 14, 2011.
  • In order to receive a patient registry identification card, the department listed medical conditions the patient must have. In addition, a physician must diagnose the patient with that specific condition. This list included, in the first of the five conditions listed, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis C. In all, there were 14 medical conditions listed.
  • To renew an identification card, the patient must submit a request, among other information, to the department 30 calendar days before the expiration of their current identification card.
  • Dispensaries can begin applying for certificates on June 1, 2011, and the department will accept those applications for thirty days after that date.
  • Smoking medical marijuana by a patient in public places is prohibited.
  • An employer cannot discriminate against a qualifying medical marijuana patient, relating to termination or suspension.

To read more, visit this document, provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Before Proposition 203 obtained ballot access for November 2010, sponsors of the initiative submitted their qualifying signatures to election officials of the state during April 2010. According to reports, petition organizers turned in about 250,000 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State, significantly more than the 153,364 required in order to place an initiated state statute on the ballot. On June 1, 2010, the Arizona Secretary of State qualified the measure. It was verified at the time that the effort had collected enough valid registered voters' signatures for ballot access.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project was the main sponsor of the measure. The main opposition to the measure was Keep AZ Drug Free, as well as Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer.

Arizona became the 15th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana with the passage of the proposal.

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