Arizona Republic: “A new University of Arizona study shows little or no evidence that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for anxiety, migraines, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, a finding that could hinder efforts to expand the allowable uses for the drug in Arizona. The researchers, working on behalf of the state Department of Health Services, which oversees the state’s medical-marijuana program, reviewed dozens of scientific studies related to marijuana use for the four medical conditions and determined that most of the research was of little value in weighing the medicinal risks and benefits.”
Arizona Capitol Times: “Requests to allow medical marijuana use in Arizona for additional medical conditions could be doomed by University of Arizona researchers’ reports that they found little or no scientific evidence to support the proposals. The state Department of Health Services hired university researchers to look for credible scientific articles and studies on harms and benefits of marijuana use for post-traumatic stress, migraine headaches, anxiety and depression.”
Read “Researchers find little evidence backing proposals to expand Arizona medical marijuana program.”
Arizona Republic: “a 2 1/2-hour public hearing at the Arizona Department of Health Services, which could expand the state’s medical-marijuana program to include PTSD, depression, anxiety and migraines as qualifying conditions for medical-marijuana ingestion. . . . More than two dozen people spoke in favor of expanding the state’s medical-marijuana program at the hearing, offering anecdotal evidence and medical records to show how pot helped them deal with night terrors, sleeping difficulties, irritability, frustration, headaches and other conditions caused by illnesses.”
Associated Press: “Arizona is considering requests to expand its fledgling medical marijuana program to allow use of the drug for an array of conditions, including post-traumatic stress syndrome and migraines, beyond those allowed under the law approved by voters two years ago. The Department of Health Services , which is required under the 2010 law to consider requests to expand coverage, holds a public hearing Friday on the first batch of requests.”
Arizona Republic: “The Arizona Department of Health Services will accept applications for medical-marijuana dispensaries today through 5 p.m. May 25. Would-be marijuana-dispensary operators must pay a $5,000 fee. If they are not selected, the state will return $1,000, state health officials said. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and cannot be a law-enforcement officer or a physician who is currently writing certifications for patients. Applicants also cannot have certain felony convictions within the last 10 years. Applicants can operate up to five dispensaries.”
Arizona Republic: “Medical-marjiuana dispensaries will have to employ a medical director at their operations, as state health officials require, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled. The non-profits could begin opening this summer. Judge Richard Gama’s May 1 decision is an important one because it could prevent abuse of medical marijuana, said Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.”
The following is what Will Humble said about the court’s decision in this case:
“One of the outstanding legal uncertainties regarding our implementation of AZ Medical Marijuana Act has been the Compassion First v. Brewer lawsuit that challenged our authority to require future dispensaries to have a Medical Director. We’ve always thought dispensary medical direction was a key component to making sure that future dispensaries act in the best interest of patients and prevent recreational diversion. After a judge’s ruling today, it looks like we’ll be OK.
Today a Maricopa Superior Court judge denied the Plaintiffs’ “Motion for Leave” to Amend their previous Complaint (which the court invalidated some of our dispensary selection criteria). The Compassion First were attempting to re-open the case to challenge our requirement that dispensaries have a medical director.
In his opinion (that largely tracks our argument), the judge denied their Motion, finding that the Plaintiffs failed to provide an adequate basis for declining to bring the medical director challenge in their initial complaint and that we (and the public) would be unduly prejudiced if the Court were to grant their Motion. Of course, the Compassion First plaintiffs could always appeal- but (for now) the upshot is that we can require future dispensaries to have medical direction.”
Arizona Daily Star: “Arizonans who say they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are hoping to get the same medical options as those with glaucoma or seizures: the right to use marijuana for medical purposes. Petitions have been filed asking state Health Director Will Humble to add PTSD to the list of medical conditions that voters approved two years ago for medical marijuana. Humble will conduct a hearing later this month and likely issue a ruling in August. PTSD sufferers are not the only ones hoping to join the list of those who can be treated with marijuana. Other petitions are seeking to make the drug an option to treat migraines, depression and general anxiety disorder.”
Arizona Republic: “Four new medical conditions could eventually qualify under Arizona’s medical-marijuana program. State health officials are considering whether to add depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and migraines as “debilitating conditions,” which would allow people to legally use medical pot. Arizona would become the only state in the nation to allow medical marijuana for anxiety and depression, said Will Humble, director of the state Department of Health Services”
Arizona Department of Health Services Plans to Accept Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications Early April 2012
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.
Arizona Department of Health Services Asks Public to Comment on the Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules
One of the top priorities during the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in the coming months is to ensure good rules are developed (called Administrative Code) so medical marijuana can be regulated effectively. Rules that are clear, objective, well-researched, and that balance competing interests are absolutely critical in order to effectively implement a responsible medical marijuana program.
The goal is to develop rules that will ensure qualified patients have access to marijuana for their medical condition while preventing (to the extent possible) recreational marijuana users from accessing marijuana through the Act’s provisions. In addition, the rules should ensure that marijuana dispensaries act responsibly and have adequate security and inventory controls.
In order to achieve these goals we need your help. Input is needed from all Arizona residents so the most responsible set of regulations are in place to balance competing interests. Please consider reviewing the informal draft rules, either individually or with other members of your community, and submit your feedback using the electronic comment form. For additional information and tips on how to provide input, review Director Humble’s Call for Public Comment.
Proposed Arizona Medical Marijuana Rules / Regulations Issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services on December 17, 2010
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a proclamation on December 14, 2010, that caused Arizona Proposition 203 to become law as of the following day. The Arizona Department of Health Services now has 120 days ending on April 14, 2010, to prepare regulations that govern Arizona’s brand new medical marijuana patients and the dispensing and growing industry. Today, December 17, 2010, DHS issued the first draft of its proposed Title 9, Health Services Chapter 17.Department of Health Services – Medical Marijuana Program. Here are some of the interesting revelations I found in my quick skim through the proposed regulations:
- “Entity” means a person as defined in A.R.S. § 1-215., which states:
“Person” includes a corporation, company, partnership, firm, association or society, as well as a natural person. When the word “person” is used to designate the party whose property may be the subject of a criminal or public offense, the term includes the United States, this state, or any territory, state or country, or any political subdivision of this state that may lawfully own any property, or a public or private corporation, or partnership or association. When the word “person” is used to designate the violator or offender of any law, it includes corporation, partnership or any association of persons.”
- Each dispensary must have a “Medical director” who is a doctor of medicine who holds a valid and existing license to practice medicine pursuant to A.R.S. Title 32, Chapter 13 or its successor or a doctor of osteopathic medicine who holds a valid and existing license to practice osteopathic medicine pursuant to A.R.S. Title 32, Chapter 17 or its successor and who has been designated by a dispensary to provide medical oversight at the dispensary.
- Dispensary registration fee = $5,000
- Dispensary renewal fee = $1,000
- Fee to change the location of a dispensary = $2,500
- Fee to change the location of a cultivation site = $2,500
- Fee to get or renew a qualifying patient card = $150
- Fee to get or renew a designated caregiver card = $200
- Fee to get or renew a dispensary agent card = $200
- A registration packet for a dispensary is not complete until the applicant provides the Department with written notice that the dispensary is ready for an inspection by the Department.
- Officers and board members of a dispensary must give DHS a copy of their Arizona driver’s license
- Number of working days applicable to applications for a dispensary: overall time frame = 90; time for applicant to complete application = 90; admin completeness 30; substantive review time = 60
Regulations Applicable to Arizona Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
- Dispensaries can be individuals, corporations (for profit and nonprofit), limited liability companies, partnerships, joint ventures and any other business organization
- “Each principal officer or board member of a dispensary is an Arizona resident and has been an Arizona resident for the two years immediately preceding the date the dispensary submits a dispensary certificate application.” I am very surprised by this requirement. Proposition 203 does not contain any language that restricts who can own a dispensary or that requires owners be residents of Arizona or any other state or country.
- The application must state whether a principal officer or board member:
1. Is a physician currently making qualifying patient recommendations
2. Has not provided a surety bond or filed any tax return with a taxing agency – This does not make any sense.
3. Has unpaid taxes, interest, or penalties due to a governmental agency.
4. Has an unpaid judgment due to a governmental agency.
5. Is in default on a government-issued student loan.
6. Failed to pay court-ordered child support.
7. Is a law enforcement officer.
8. Is employed by or a contractor of the Department
- The application must state the name and license number of the dispensary’s medical director
- The application must state if the dispensary and, if applicable, the dispensary’s cultivation site are ready for an inspection by the Department
- The application must state if the dispensary and, if applicable, the dispensary’s cultivation site are not ready for an inspection by the Department, the date the dispensary and, if applicable, the dispensary’s cultivation site will be ready for an inspection by the Department
- The application must state the name and title of each principal officer and board member
- The application must contain a copy of the business organization’s articles of incorporation, articles of organization, or partnership or joint venture documents, if applicable.
- The application must contain an attestation signed and dated by the principal officer or board member that the principal officer or board member is an Arizona resident and has been an Arizona resident for at least two consecutive years immediately preceding the date the dispensary submitted the dispensary certificate application.
- The application must include a copy of the certificate of occupancy or other documentation issued by the local jurisdiction to the applicant authorizing occupancy of the building as a dispensary and, if applicable, as the dispensary’s cultivation site.
- The application must include a copy of the dispensary’s by-laws containing provisions for the disposition of revenues and receipts.
- The application must include a business plan demonstrating the on-going viability of the dispensary as a non-profit organization.
- The application must state whether a registered pharmacist will be onsite or on-call during regular business hours and if the dispensary will provide information about the importance of physical activity and nutrition onsite.
- The dispensary must employ or contract with a medical director.
- A dispensary shall cultivate at least 70% of the medical marijuana the dispensary provides to qualifying patients or designated caregivers. This is a surprise and probably a problem and increased costs for many dispensaries.
- A dispensary shall not provide more than 30% of the medical marijuana cultivated by the dispensary to other dispensaries. Another surprise!
- A medical director may only serve as a medical director for three dispensaries at any time.
- The building used by a dispensary or the dispensary’s cultivation site shall have a flushable toilet with running water, soap in a dispenser and toilet tissue.
- DHS will deny an application for a dispensary if a principal officer or board member:
1. Is not a resident of Arizona or has not been a resident of Arizona for at least two consecutive years immediately preceding the date the application for the dispensary registration certificate is submitted.
2. Is a physician currently making qualifying patient recommendations.
3. Is a law enforcement officer.
4. Is an employee of or a contractor with the Department.
- The Department may deny an application for a dispensary registration certificate if a principal officer or board member of the dispensary:
1. Has not provided a surety bond or filed any tax return with a taxing agency.
2. Has unpaid taxes, interest, or penalties due to a governmental agency.
3. Has an unpaid judgment owed to a governmental agency.
4. Is in default on a government-issued student loan.
5. Failed to pay court-ordered child support.
6. Provides false or misleading information to the Department.
Here are some interesting statements from Will Humble, the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, the agency that will oversee Arizona’s medical marijuana law.
On how DHS will determine which applicants get one of the 124 dispensary licenses:
“There are probably a number of ways to do it, but 3 come to mind right away. We could, for example:
- Use some kind of first-come first-served process and simply approve the first 124 complete dispensary applications;
- Place the complete applications in a pool and have some kind of random drawing on a particular date; or
- Evaluate the complete applications using some kind of objective criteria (such as the professional quality of their business model, security plan, customer validation and inventory system etc) and select the best applications from the stack for approval.
Method 3 is probably the best because we’d be able to select the best of the qualified applicants”
On the proposed implementation schedule:
“Implementing the Act will take at least 4 months… and we expect to be able to accept our first applications for medical marijuana (Cannabis) cards and dispensaries in early April, 2011. In the mean time, we’ll be developing the Administrative Code (Rules) for actually operating and regulating the program. Here is our schedule for Rule development:
December 17, 2010: ADHS posts an initial informal draft of the Rules.
December 17, 2010 – January 7, 2011: ADHS receives informal (electronic) public comment on the initial informal draft Rules.
January 31, 2011: ADHS posts official draft Rules for public comment.
January 31, 2011 – February 18, 2011: ADHS receive public comment on a revised draft of the Rules.
February 15 – 17, 2011: ADHS holds 3 public meetings about the draft Rules
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 – 1 pm, 250 N 17th Ave., Phoenix
Wednesday, February, 16, 2011 – 1 pm, 400 W. Congress, Room 222, Tucson
Thursday, February 17, 2011 – 1 pm, 250 N 17th Ave., Phoenix
March 28, 2011: ADHS publishes the final Rules that will be used to implement the Act.”
Arizona Republic: Arizona Department of Health Services “officials said Monday that they will begin implementing the measure and expect the drug to be in use by late summer 2011. [ADHS] Director Will Humble said he expects that by April, the agency will begin reviewing applications from people who want to use medical marijuana or operate a dispensary. The program should be fully functioning by later that summer, when dispensaries have had time to grow the plants.”
“The department currently is considering several options to screen dispensary applications, such as accepting them on a first-come, first-served basis or creating a lottery system and drawing random applications. The ideal but most labor-intensive way to select dispensaries would be to evaluate the quality of their business models, security plans and inventory systems and then select the best 124 applications, Humble said.”
See the Channel 12 video that answers questions asked by viewers about the new law.