Posts Tagged ‘marijuana’

Smoking & Stillbirth

December 23rd, 2013

It’s been almost 50 years since the 1st Surgeon General’s report on the health dangers of smoking and we’re still fighting the battle.  About 43 million Americans smoke despite decades of warnings.  Science continues to uncover dangerous aspects of tobacco use.  A new report highlights the threat to unborn children.  

The study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology used blood samples from stillborn babies to find the impact of smoking, secondhand smoke, marijuana and other prescription drugs.  The results showed double the risk of stillbirth for mom’s who smoked tobacco or marijuana or other stimulant or prescription drugs.  

We know that getting healthcare while you’re pregnant is important – but it’s also important to be healthy before a woman even gets pregnant.  First stop smoking – whether you’re the mom to be or her family.   The ASHLine (our highly successful quit line) has free support and provides tools to help you make and keep the promise to stop using tobacco. Stop using drugs unless your doctor tells you to – there are great resources available in Arizona if you need help. And take care of your body – Power Me A2Z and Every Woman Arizona are geared toward helping women be healthy.

Marijuana v. Cannabis

August 30th, 2013

Are Marijuana and Cannabis the same thing when it comes to Arizona Law?  The short answer is no- and the distinction may be  an important one for Qualified Patients. 

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act provides registry identification card holders and dispensaries a number of legal protections for their medical use of Marijuana pursuant to the Act.  Interestingly, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act definition of “Marijuana” in A.R.S. § 36-2801(8) differs from the Arizona Criminal Code’s (“Criminal Code”) definition of “Marijuana” in A.R.S. § 13-3401(19). In addition, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act makes a distinction between “Marijuana” and “Usable Marijuana.” A.R.S. § 36-2801(8) and (15)

The definition of “Marijuana” in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act is “… all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant.”  The definition of “Usable Marijuana” is  “…  the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks and roots of the plant and does not include the weight of any non-marijuana ingredients combined with marijuana and prepared for consumption as food or drink.”  The “allowable amount of marijuana” for a qualifying patient and a designated caregiver includes “two-and-one half ounces of usable marijuana.”  A.R.S. § 36-2801(1)

The definition of “Marijuana” in the Criminal Code is “… all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis, from which the resin has not been extracted, whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant.”   “Cannabis” (a narcotic drug under the Criminal Code) is defined as: “… the following substances under whatever names they may be designated: (a) The resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus cannabis, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant, its seeds or its resin.  Cannabis does not include oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any fiber, compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the mature stalks of such plant except the resin extracted from the stalks or any fiber, oil or cake or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination; and (b) Every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such resin or tetrahydrocannabinol.A.R.S. § 13-3401(4) and (20)(w)

An issue the Department has been wrestling with for some time is how the definition of “Marijuana” and “Usable Marijuana” in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and the definition of “Cannabis” and “Marijuana” in the Criminal Code fit together.  This confusion, which appears to be shared by dispensaries and registered identification card holders alike, is not easy to clear up and has resulted in the Department receiving numerous questions regarding the interplay between the protections in A.R.S. § 36-2811 and the Criminal Code.  While we can’t provide legal advice as to whether a certain conduct is punishable under the Criminal Code (only an individual’s or entity’s legal counsel can do this), “Cannabis” is defined as the “resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus cannabis” and “Cannabis” is listed as a narcotic drug according to the Criminal Code in A.R.S. § 13-3401(4) and (20)(w).   

In other words, registered identification card holders and dispensaries may be exposed to criminal prosecution under the Criminal Code for possessing a narcotic drug if the card holder or dispensary possesses resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus Cannabis or an edible containing resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus Cannabis.  If you’re concerned that your conduct may expose you to criminal prosecution, you may wish to consult an attorney.  We’ll be providing some specific guidance for dispensaries licensed by the ADHS next week.


Petitions to Add Debilitating Conditions to the MM List

July 23rd, 2013

The AZ Medical Marijuana Act also requires us to periodically accept petitions to permanently add new medical conditions to the list of conditions that qualify folks for a card.  In Jan 2012, we’ve received petitions to add PTSD 1PTSD 2; Depression; Migraines; and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In short- I didn’t approve the petitions because of the lack of published data regarding the risks and benefits of using Cannabis to treat or provide relief for the petitioned conditions.  

We’ll begin accepting petitions to add debilitating conditions tomorrow; July24th-July31. Our medical team will meet after that to get me an initial analysis regarding whether any petitions we receive meet the screening criteria.  Assuming we receive qualified petitions, I’ll need to make a final decision by December 2013.  Our website shows folks how, what, where, and when to submit petitions.

Dispensary Zoning Case

December 13th, 2012

Last week a Superior Court judge ordered Maricopa County to process the zoning paperwork that has been submitted by the applicant for the Sun City CHAA.  The Maricopa County Attorney asked for a Stay of the decision while he appealed the case to the Court of Appeals.  This morning, the Superior Court judge denied that request for a Stay.  There’s still an appeal pathway for the Maricopa County Attorney if he asks for a Stay of the decision from the Appellate court while the pre-emption arguments are made at the Appellate level.  For our part- we did not take a position at today’s hearing… and we will simply continue to wait for the applicant in the Sun City CHAA to turn in its zoning paperwork, which would complete the application.  At that point we would process it the same as the other 98.

By the way- AZ now has 3 operating dispensaries, one in Glendale and one in Tucson.  Another dispensary in Cochise County opened today.  Because of the 3 operating dispensaries and provision in the voter approved language that only people that live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary are authorized to cultivate, more than 70% of Arizonans now live in areas where self-cultivation will no longer be permitted.  However, we’re grandfathering the cultivation rights for current card-holders until they renew their card or move into an area that’s within 25 miles of a dispensary.

Dispensary Court Ruling

December 4th, 2012


A Superior Court judge ruled today in the dispensary case concerning the applicant in the Sun City CHAA.  The judge ordered the county to begin processing the required zoning paperwork.  This was the only application for this area,  so the next step for the applicant is to submit to us a completed application including  the zoning paperwork from the county.   The Department will process this application the same as the other 98 applications.

First Dispensary

November 15th, 2012

Our team just returned from a field inspection for a dispensary applicant in Glendale.  There were no major deficiencies, and we awarded the dispensary an “approval to operate” late this afternoon.  This is the first dispensary approval to operate we’ve issued in the State.  By law, we’re not allowed to publicly disclose the address. 

The fact that a dispensary is now licensed in the Valley also means that the “self-grow” part of the law will change on Friday.  Beginning tomorrow we’ll be declining new “requests to cultivate” among new cardholders in most of the metro area…  because self-grow (12 plants) is only allowed when the patient lives more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary.  The vast majority of the Valley is within 25 miles of this new dispensary.   

We’re also adding a new feature to our website to help people figure out if they live within 25 miles of a dispensary.  Because of the changes to the system, we’ just took the it offline.  We’ll work on it over the weekend and most of the application process should be up and running on Monday.

Medical Condition Petition Status

July 6th, 2012

The AZ Medical Marijuana Act requires us to periodically accept petitions to add new medical conditions to the list of conditions that qualify folks for an AZ Medical Marijuana Registration Card.  In January, we accepted petitions from the public and had a public hearing in May.  Folks submitted numerous articles as a part their petitions for PTSD 1PTSD 2; Depression; Migraines; and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.   We also received lots of informal comments regarding adding PTSD; Depression; Migraines; Generalized Anxiety Disorder and General comments.

We also contracted with the U of A to review published scientific studies related to marijuana use and the petitioned conditions.  You can see the UA analyses for Depression; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Migraine Headaches; and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on our petition website.  Our ADHS medical team will be meeting within the next week or so and will be providing me with their analysis and recommendations.  The ultimate decision rests with me,  the Director, and I have a decision deadline in late July.

M2 Contracts On Deck

June 23rd, 2012

We have a couple of new projects in the works to ensure that the dispensary system reflects a medical rather than a recreational system.  We’re working with Arizona’s pharmacy/poison control systems to put together a contract to provide technical assistance and educational materials to the future dispensary medical directors.  We’re also putting together a contract to hire a vendor to help us ensure that the future dispensaries are truly “non-profit”.  The  contractor will be reviewing the required dispensary audited financial statements to make sure they’re on the up-and-up in terms of truly being “non-profit”.  For example- (among other things) the contractor will be looking for evidence that dispensaries are getting “fair value” for goods, services, salaries, and reimbursements- to make sure that they don’t use a shell game to over-pay for things or services as a way of moving assets out of the dispensary.  Stay tuned.

Selection Tuesday

June 21st, 2012

Overall, we ended up receiving 486 medical marijuana dispensary applications among our 126 Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAAs).  Twenty-seven of the CHAAs had no applicant at all- leaving 99 Community Health Analysis Areas with at least 1 applicant.  Seventy-five of the 99 had more than 1 applicant.  Assuming that each of these end up being complete, we’ll need to randomly select successful applicants in 75 of the CHAAs (we’ll be posting an updated summary of how many complete applications there are by CHAA in a few weeks).  Here’s how it’ll work for the competitive CHAAs on Selection Tuesday (August 7):  

We’ll be using a device that blows balls inside of a clear cage to randomly select the successful applicant in each CHAA.  Applicants will be assigned a random code in advance…  and the person with the code that matches the ball that blows into the chamber will be allocated a Registration Certificate.  We’ll repeat this process for each of the competitive CHAAs.  The process will be webcast live on a URL that we identify a few days before August 7.  The Act doesn’t allow us to identify the successful applicants by name or even business name publicly- so the live announcement will be made using the code that only the applicants will have.  Each applicant will receive their unique identifier electronically so they’ll know whether they won their CHAA drawing via the webcast.  The Certificates will be mailed later that day. 

Everybody that’s allocated a Dispensary Registration Certificate will have a little less than a year to build out and get an “Approval to Operate”.  Keep in mind that an application for Approval to Operate a dispensary is not complete until we get a written notice that the dispensary is ready for an inspection and they meet our criteria.  Our team recently put together some tools to help Registration Certificate holders meet our Approval to Operate criteria, including an Approval to Operate Application Checklist, Approval to Operate Application Instructions, and the Dispensary Inspection Checklist.

“It’s a Wrap”

May 25th, 2012

It’s been a busy week for our medical marijuana team.  Our 2-week dispensary application period ended a couple of hours ago…  as did the hearing regarding adding new debilitating medical conditions.

We received 484 dispensary applications over the last 2 weeks.  As you know, we have 126 Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAAs) and a maximum of 126 possible dispensaries (one per CHAA).   Some of our CHAA’s received multiple applications- for example, the Estrella CHAA had 16 applicants and the Flagstaff E  CHAA 13 had applicants.  Many other CHAAs had only 1 applicant. 27 areas didn’t receive any applications.  You can see the number of applications by CHAA on our website.

Our team just finished logging all of the applications that we received and has already started reviewing some of the applications for “Administrative Completeness”.  Any applications that are “Administratively Incomplete” (in other words, if they’re missing something) will be returned to the applicants so they can correct whatever is wrong.  In June, we’ll be checking for “Substantive Completeness” (which is a more thorough, quality review), and the applicants will have another chance to make corrections.  We expect to award all of the Registration Certificates on August 7.

Registration Certificates will be awarded to applicants in CHAAs with only 1 applicant on August 7 as long as their application is Administratively and Substantively complete.  We’ll be holding a random drawing on August 7 to award Certificates in the CHAAs with more than 1 qualified applicant.   Of course, some CHAAs will not have a dispensary this year because we didn’t have an applicant.

We also had our hearing regarding adding debilitating medical conditions this afternoon at our Laboratory.  We heard from dozens of folks – some urged us to add the conditions and some that urged us not to.  We have also received hundreds of comments on-line.  We have several more weeks before we need to make a decision.  If you’d like to view the public comment session, we have a link on our website.