What follows is the text of the suggested changes to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ December 17, 2010, rules that I posted in the comment area on the DHS website today. Tomorrow, January 7, 2011, is the last day to submit online comments.
1. Eliminate the requirement for a medical director. This greatly increases operational costs that will be passed on to the patients. It’s not in Prop 203 and is unreasonable. Is there any other retail business in Arizona that must have a medical director? Do you know if a doctor’s malpractice insurance would cover services to the dispensary? The doctor may not be covered by malpractice insurance because the insurance company may say that being a medical director for a marijuana dispensary involves an industry that violates federal law and/or does not involve the practice of medicine.
2. If you retain the medical director, allow licensed pharmacists to be a medical director.
3. Do not require dispensaries to get a certificate of occupancy. Many cities (Mesa for example) do not provide a CO,. It was only a few years ago the Phoenix started issuing them.
4. Do not require Arizona residency. It’s not in Prop 203 and is unreasonable. I don’t believe there is any other type of business in Arizona that must be owned by an Arizona resident.
5. Give dispensaries guidance on what criteria you will use to select licensees.
6. Create a preliminary approval so dispensaries can determine they will be able to get a license before spending a large amount of money without any assurance they will actually get a license. Dispensaries could then build tenant improvements, purchase equipment and hire personnel knowing that they have a good chance of getting the license. Applicants that are rejected and that do not get preliminary approval, will be spared wasting their money.
7. Ease up on the requirements for a patient to get a recommendation from a doctor. As one local doctor wrote recently, doctors can see a patient once and prescribe any number of drugs that are potentially much more harmful than marijuana.
8. Eliminate or greatly reduce the requirement that a dispensary grow at least 70% of the marijuana it sells. This growing requirements causes dispensaries to fund and operate a retail business and a farm, both of which are time-consuming and expensive. Let dispensaries that want to grow more than they sell do so. It would reduce the capital required by other dispensaries.