On January 25, 2012, Director Will Humble of the Arizona Department of Health Services wrote the following on his blog:
Right now, it looks like a qualified “yes”. As you know from earlier blog posts a the judge has ruled in a state case that had challenged our dispensary applicant selection criteria. We’ve been reviewing our options- and decided yesterday not to appeal the case- which puts us back on track to licensing dispensaries under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
Our teams are busy dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s right now on an express rule package that would remove the dispensary selection criteria that was struck down last week (AZ residency, child support, previous bankruptcies etc.) and to set new dates to accept dispensary applications. Our goal is to accept applications this April. We’d then have 45 days to review and award dispensary licenses- so we could potentially have awarded up to 125 dispensary licenses by mid-June. If someone is pretty much ready to go at that point, we could see medical marijuana dispensaries operating in July or August.
It’s been awhile since we talked about dispensaries and the certificate process. The place to start your refresher course is by reading our 53 Frequently Asked Questions summary sheet and our dispensary webpage. In the meantime, there are several things that won’t change and are still outlined in rule. Folks will need to have a business plan, security information, staff information, medical director and a plan to distribute information to patients, plus a letter from the locality saying the address is in compliance with local zoning rules. So while we’re busy tying up loose ends with the rules and the FAQs, I imagine prospective dispensary owners will be busy too.
One of the key provisions we settled on was to use zones to spread the dispensaries throughout the state. There were a few reasons for this – one to keep them from clustering in urban areas, another was to make sure that qualifying patients in the more rural areas of the state had access to a dispensary. Since we started issuing cards to qualifying patients and designated caregivers, we’ve been mapping where they live by zone. That information is available in a monthly report on our website.