Dispensary Ruling

July 31st, 2013 by Will Humble Leave a reply »

The Superior Court judge ruled this morning that our requirement for Registration Certificate holders (dispensaries) to get an approval to operate within one year in order to renew their certificates is unreasonable.  Because of today’s ruling, we’re going to accept renewal requests for all the current dispensaries in the state, whether they’re open or not.  The initial year for dispensaries is over next week.

The ruling also means we’ll need to rewrite our rules – but that’s not a simple process.  We’ll begin the process of adjusting our regulations to be in accordance with today’s ruling, but it will likely take several months to have everything in line.  Today’s ruling will also delay our decision about how to proceed with “year 2” dispensary applications.

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67 comments

  1. Grant Fastos says:

    You sure do lose a lot when you go to court over the implementation of MMJ in the state. Maybe someone should review your practices and biases.

    So much scrutiny over a plant yet pill pushing Dr’s get no attention?

    History will look back and laugh at our times for such silly prohibitions and those like yourself that pushed so hard to keep it that way.

    • Melanie says:

      Arizona Department of Health (ADHS) has no biases within its practice. The agency exists simply to fullfill the will of the Arizona Legislature and people who have legalized medical marijuana. Arizona now has about 20 or so dispensaries across the state that are open for business. These first few dispensaries have been slow to open, but not due to ADHS policy. The real problem is that some dispensaries have encountered zoning issues at the local level. This recent court ruling was a win for these dispensaries, not a loss for ADHS.

      • Will Humble says:

        We will press ahead given the ruling today.

        FYI- we have 61 dispensaries that have already earned their Approval to Operate and at least a dozen inspections scheduled this week- so we will most likely be well over 70 within a week or two.

  2. James says:

    Why do the rules have to be rewritten? It just appears that there needs to be some mechanism put in place whereby persons who can’t meet the deadline can appeal? There are 18 applicants who are seeking an extension and it looks like the court has said DHS needs to decide who has been diligent and who hasn’t.

    There was an email circulating earlier that outlined criteria you could use to make an applicant prove they’ve been diligent.

    a. the efforts of the parties to date – what have they done and when did they start? They could show that in a timeline.

    b. the voracity of their representations in their initial application which permitted them to get into the lottery in the first place – were the representations made in the application true? Did they really have a site where the landlord has just changed his mind or did no such site exist?

    c. whether they legitimately had the money they claimed they did in the initial application – what happened to their money? Did they spend more than $150,000 or did they never have the $150,000

    d. how diligent they were after they failed to get zoning approvals – did they appeal? Did they try to rectify the situation?

    e, what do they have in place if they are given time – irrevocable money commitment, a signed lease, management, etc.

    f. whether they can ever open in that CHAA – if you give them 5 years, will they EVER be able to open?

    Perhaps you can require that they bring some type of action against the local zoning authorities with unreasonable zoning to ensure that they meet the deadline. Perhaps you can offer certificates in these very same CHAA’s in round 2 to see if a competing dispensary can open.

    Putting the program on indefinite hold is not fair to the vast majority of applicants who were ready, willing and able to get a certificate, but didn’t win the lottery. If we are to believe that the rules have any validity and that DHS has any credibility, we need to know that this ruling isn’t going to derail all of us and leave us in limbo once again!

    • Will Humble says:

      We need to write Rules to ensure that the regulations we develop are clear and wired into the state’s administrative code- otherwise we will be challenged for being arbitrary and/or capricious.

  3. Speaking Truth to Power says:

    You Rules are unreasonable…. how can that be? Really a judge said that about the RULES of the Arizona Medical Marijuana program. While writing new rules you might put a few in to address the Arizona Medical Marijuana Fund and how your Department is misappropriating and spending funds that don’t belong to you but to the patients that are paying ridiculous fees for what? A 10 dollar plastic card that is full of errors (you couldn’t even spell marijuana correctly on your card’s last year).

    So if the dispensaries having a year to open is unreasonable the 25 mile Rule (it is a RULE not LAW) is also unreasonable and the dispensaries are in a moratorium for the approval to operate process so no OPERATING DISPENSARIES in Tucson since you are not awarding ATO Certificates on August 7, 2013 so all patients current with their cards are now allowed to cultivate. Ask the Judge about that or just wait until the Class Action lawsuit is filed and then get your slap down. Stop wasting money on worthless lawyers like Sherman & Howard, they are draining the Medical Marijuana Fund.

    Scrub away Mr. Humble this is going to be posted regardless of what you do.

    Mrs. Truth will not be Denied.

    • Will Humble says:

      Since we will have the rule revision in process as a result of today’s decision we may also revise the rule that defines 25 miles “as the crow flies” to by road distance while we’re at it. However, the voter approved language requires that we restrict cultivation within 25 miles of an operating dispensary.

      There are numerous operating dispensaries in the Tucson area. We will continue to award Approvals to Operate after August 7.

      • Mike says:

        Will,

        You say the voter approved language requires that you restrict cultivation within 25 miles. I can’t find the exact wording where it prohibits it entirely though. It clearly states that if you are outside the “zone” you can cultivate up to 12 but it does not designate what to restrict inside the zone. Who decides the interpretation on this?

        A qualifying patient who is registered with DHS (or a registered designated caregiver on behalf of the qualifying patient) may obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in a 14-day period from a registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary. If the qualifying patient’s home is located more than 25 miles from the nearest nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary, the patient or designated caregiver may cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility.

      • Anonymous says:

        In the AMMA we are supposed to have safe access and there were 2 exemptions to the 25 mile rule. 1 was of you could not afford them, or 2 was if you didn’t like the atmosphere you could “opt out” of the dispensary program. they removed them during the first year VIOLATING the Votes protection act & then try & use it to protect their monopoly!!! when this case coming up is over I want to see GOV’T officials in jail and kicked out of the State for being trators to this Constitutional Republic!

        The 25 Mile Rule VIOLATES Az state constitution in at least 3 sections & this WILL be removed by these class action cases coming up OR the new recreational laws will make all your work null & void once voted in, in the next few years…what are U protecting us from??? A non-toxic plant!?!

      • JOHN H says:

        I think even 25 miles is far to long in fuel costs. That’s 50 miles round trip for patients to a dispensary. What about patient with out vehicles using only public transportation and a wheel chair? How far do you drive to Walgreen’s? You can walk a few blocks to any pharmacy for a prescription.Not a single person in the valley drives 25 miles to pick up a prescription. All I am asking is that you treat patients fairly on a program that will generate an estimated 440 million dollars by 2016.

        • Will Humble says:

          The voter approved language said that patients cannot cultivate unless they live at least 25 miles away from a dispensary.

          We elected to define the 25 miles in our regulations “as the crow flies” which I know is controversial. Now that we will be opening our rules to accomodate the judge’s ruling yesterday we can also adjust the 25 mile rule to be defined by road distance.

          • Deb says:

            You keep referring back to the “voter approved language” but the voters didn’t write the wording-they just voted to approve Medical Marijuana. The language was written by those who would gain the most financially-hence the dispensary owners. The entire 25 mile rule needs to be abolished with cultivation rights given back to the little guy.

          • Will Humble says:

            While to voting booth information was very brief- voters were actually voting for or against the full initiative which was several pages long and published in the voter guide.

          • D. Cassidy says:

            This is what I remember signing when I voted…

            36-2812. Affirmative defense
            A. EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 36-2802, A QUALIFYING PATIENT AND A QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DESIGNATED CAREGIVER, IF ANY, MAY ASSERT THE MEDICAL PURPOSE FOR USING MARIJUANA AS A DEFENSE TO ANY PROSECUTION OF AN OFFENSE INVOLVING MARIJUANA INTENDED FOR A QUALIFYING PATIENT’S MEDICAL USE, AND THIS DEFENSE SHALL BE PRESUMED VALID WHERE THE EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT:
            1. A PHYSICIAN STATES THAT, IN THE PHYSICIAN’S PROFESSIONAL OPINION, AFTER HAVING COMPLETED A FULL ASSESSMENT OF THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S MEDICAL HISTORY AND CURRENT MEDICAL CONDITION MADE IN THE COURSE OF A BONA FIDE PHYSICIAN-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP, THE QUALIFYING PATIENT IS LIKELY TO RECEIVE THERAPEUTIC OR PALLIATIVE BENEFIT FROM THE MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA TO TREAT OR ALLEVIATE THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DEBILITATING MEDICAL CONDITION OR SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DEBILITATING MEDICAL CONDITION.
            2. THE QUALIFYING PATIENT AND THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DESIGNATED CAREGIVER, IF ANY, WERE COLLECTIVELY IN POSSESSION OF A QUANTITY OF MARIJUANA THAT WAS NOT MORE THAN WAS REASONABLY NECESSARY TO ENSURE THE UNINTERRUPTED AVAILABILITY OF MARIJUANA FOR THE PURPOSE OF TREATING OR ALLEVIATING THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DEBILITATING MEDICAL CONDITION OR SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DEBILITATING MEDICAL CONDITION.
            3. ALL MARIJUANA PLANTS WERE CONTAINED IN AN ENCLOSED LOCKED FACILITY.
            4. THE QUALIFYING PATIENT AND THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DESIGNATED CAREGIVER, IF ANY, WERE ENGAGED IN THE ACQUISITION, POSSESSION, CULTIVATION, MANUFACTURE, USE OR TRANSPORTATION OF MARIJUANA, PARAPHERNALIA OR BOTH, RELATING TO THE ADMINISTRATION OF MARIJUANA SOLELY TO TREAT OR ALLEVIATE THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DEBILITATING MEDICAL CONDITION OR SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DEBILITATING MEDICAL CONDITION.
            B. A PERSON MAY ASSERT THE MEDICAL PURPOSE FOR USING MARIJUANA IN A MOTION TO DISMISS, AND THE CHARGES SHALL BE DISMISSED FOLLOWING AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING WHERE THE PERSON SHOWS THE ELEMENTS LISTED IN SUBSECTION (A).
            C. IF A QUALIFYING PATIENT OR A QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DESIGNATED CAREGIVER DEMONSTRATE THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S MEDICAL PURPOSE FOR USING MARIJUANA PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION, THE QUALIFYING PATIENT AND THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S DESIGNATED CAREGIVER SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING FOR THE QUALIFYING PATIENT’S MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA:
            1. DISCIPLINARY ACTION BY A COURT OR OCCUPATIONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LICENSING BOARD OR BUREAU.
            2. FORFEITURE OF ANY INTEREST IN OR RIGHT TO NON-MARIJUANA, LICIT PROPERTY.

            http://www.azsos.gov/election/2010/info/pubpamphlet/english/prop203.htm

            And here is the 2802 exeption… will

            36-2802. Arizona Medical Marijuana Act; limitations

            (Caution: 1998 Prop. 105 applies)

            This chapter does not authorize any person to engage in, and does not prevent the imposition of any civil, criminal or other penalties for engaging in, the following conduct:

            A. Undertaking any task under the influence of marijuana that would constitute negligence or professional malpractice.

            B. Possessing or engaging in the medical use of marijuana:

            1. On a school bus.

            2. On the grounds of any preschool or primary or secondary school.

            3. In any correctional facility.

            C. Smoking marijuana:

            1. On any form of public transportation.

            2. In any public place.

            D. Operating, navigating or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft or motorboat while under the influence of marijuana, except that a registered qualifying patient shall not be considered to be under the influence of marijuana solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana that appear in insufficient concentration to cause impairment.

            E. Using marijuana except as authorized under this chapter.

      • Burningman says:

        Mr. Humble -

        Over the past 2+ years the Caregiver and Co-op business models have completely derailed the intended system. This is completely evident by the amount of marijuana available on the market from the Caregivers (CG) that have 100s of pounds of marijuana each for donation (sale).

        Caregivers are aggressively seeking patients outside the 25 miles to continue more of the same. These same CGs have warehouses and grow houses scattered around the state growing 1000s and 1000s of pounds of marijuana for donation (sale).

        The 25 mile rule (as the crow flies) is a very effective rule that disables the caregiver rogue operations. If the state considers changing the 25 mile rule to driving distances, this will re-open and promote the CGs to grow even more and continue to operate as dispensaries with no regulatory oversight, zoning requirements and taxation. Changing the rule now will completely sabotage the regulated dispensary system and continue to allow CGs to exploit the system.

        I urge the State to stay diligent and keep the current rules to protect all of us.

        • Anonymous says:

          You are a fascist trying to endorse things that go against our state constitution, to provide monopolies and benefits for certain citizens over other citizens who just want to be self sufficient. We are endorsing BOYCOTTING all dispensaries until this system is set up to protect the patient from legal persurcution for taking a more homeopathic approach and being self sufficient in their medical care. We will starve you of your profits and return to the black market before we endorse your will over ours.

  4. James says:

    DHS has already been challenged for being arbitrary and capricious. It’s a little late for that one! What’s missing is a process for appeal or due process. That was clear from the hearing.

    It just seems that DHS has received millions in licensing fees. It could hire an independent third party to do an audit with criteria showing what these people have done -They testified that they had shown due diligence. Did they really? They testified that they had submitted accurate applications. Did they really? They testified that they have done everything that they could to try to open. Did they really? How hard is it to hold applicants to the voracity of their documents.

  5. Glorious Herbs says:

    they should of reviewed the applications better and then there wouldn’t of even been a court case

  6. Kirah says:

    How is it arbitrary and capricious for you to require the applicants who submitted fraudulent applications – particularly those Medbox clients – to verify that they had the money they claimed they had and the locations they claimed they had? You have millions in the MMJ fund. You could hire the type of firms they use for the IRS or workers comp to audit documents,

    I heard on the news tonight that it would take you SIX to EIGHTEEN months to rewrite the rules because of 18 applicants. REALLY??? This is SOOO wrong. Can you spell A N O T H E R. L A W S U I T?

  7. Robert Clark says:

    You stopped renewing cultivation rights when these dispensaries opened their doors. Not one were growing their own. Where are they getting all the cannabis they are selling? Are you making sure they are not getting it from out of state or illegally? Why did you jump at the chance to cause patients harm?

    • Will Humble says:

      There are a number of ways dispensaries can legally get their inventory. It can be gifted by caregivers (on the Board?), cultivated on their own, or purchased wholesale from another dispensary with a cultivation facility.

      Yes, we stopped approving or renewing cultivation authorization once there’s an operating dispensary within 25 miles of the patient’s residence- in accordance with the voter approved language. However, we grandfathered in cultivation rights if a dispensary began operations for the life of the card.

      • Anonymous says:

        The point being made is that in order to sell cannabis the day they open their doors, they must have acquired it illegally. Show me a plant that can grow overnight??? Bureaucrats trying to farm.. LOL! That’s our problem right there!! You know nothing of gardening on this level, even Michael Pollan of Food Inc. fame credits cannabis farmers as the best farmers in the world in “Bottany of Desire”. It all comes down to farmers vs. bankers. Farmers help provide a natural resource and bankers create artificial debt, fake money, scams to steal natural resources and fund corrupt politicians and Bureaucrats to pass corrupt laws against nature, humanity & our abundant natural resources in order to create monopolies in their synthetic markets that they choose to invest in. Nylon vs hemp is a great example, wood pulp paper vs hemp paper, petroleum fuel vs biofuels made from hemp & algae, bio plastics that are stronger & lighter than steel & decompose faster, etc, etc. the real reason why cannabis is illegal is because of HEMPS industrial applications and Anslinger used racist propaganda (why we still refer to it as Marijuana today even has its roots in racism) about cannabis to make HEMP illegal as per Andrew Mellon and Harry Anslingers plan to make themselves and their friends and family wealthy at the expense of a war on nature and one of our greatest natural resources…the birth of synthetics vs natural has its roots in hemp and cannabis prohibition! ARCHAIC!!!!

      • jim says:

        there is no secret some of the open dispensaries are getting some of their product from out of state. I have seen the owners cars with California plates, budtenders from Colorado. most importantly, is when an agent for a dispensary slipped and told me he only buys “California outdoor” prices. he knew he said something he shouldn’t have and quickly tried to back track. I have asked your dept to begin audits of records to prove they have been getting their product from care givers or other dispensaries. they have rules and laws to follow too.

  8. James says:

    Why am I not surprised? Just got off of the phone with one of the “winning” plaintiffs and of course he thinks he automatically has another year to open. What losers!

    He doesn’t seem to understand that DHS has been directed to create a process whereby you can scrutinize the certificate holder’s application and what they’ve done to date.

    On another note. Just read your reply to the above post. DHS seems to be so concerned about the 25 mile rule for dispensaries. What are you going to do in 24 months when dispensaries can change CHAA’s and they all converge on Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson and Prescott, leaving places like Cochise, Superior and San Miguel without a dispensary within 25 miles of the patients? Was there rhyme or reason to that rule? Enlighten us!

    • Will Humble says:

      This provision came out of the public comment effort that we made. As a practical matter it is probably true that dispensaries will migrate to urban areas after having been operating for 3 years. Thus will leave rural CHAAs empty for a short period, but empty CHAAs get a preference each year when evaluating the capacity under the roughly 126 dispensary cap.

      Remember that a dispensary must operate for 3 years before moving, so we’re really talking about 2016 here.

      • James says:

        PROBABLY true they’ll migrate??? You can count on it! With all due respect, I am not sure how you’re doing the math.

        If there are going to be 126 +/- total certificates issued, and by 2015/2016 (remember some CHAAs opened the end of 2012/beginning of 2013), all or virtually all 126 certificates will have been awarded, how are you going to backfill the rural areas if you are out of certificates? You can’t issue in excess of 126 certificates because 1:10 pharmacy ratio is in the law and if you don’t get busy and finish issuing all 126, you’re undoubtedly going to be facing more litigation.

        The unintended consequence of your permitting this migration – which no one expected by the way and isn’t in the law – is that those patients in rural areas will regain their cultivating rights (which I thought you wanted to avoid).

        Did your staff ever consider that perhaps those patients who want to cultivate were the people making the public comment?

        A lot of these things could be avoided by sending out a survey to industry professionals or dispensary owners. If DHS keeps developing the program based upon public comment from “those who just love the plant”, you’re going to keep getting these nonsensical results!

        I never thought I’d be cheering for DHS, but I don’t envy your job one bit! Keep plugging away.

        Now what about the criteria for those people who are now gloating about their “beating DHS”, and ONCE AGAIN sitting back doing nothing because they think they have another year to open?

        • Will Humble says:

          We’re just doing the best that we can. There are a very wide variety of opinions regarding what defines a well run program. For every decision we make there are people that like it, some that don’t, and some that don’t care. I’ve come to believe that there is no such thing as consensus regarding this program or what consists of good policy related to this program.

          As an aside- we have some flexibility under the statute and rules and we aren’t necessarily required to issue or offer up to 126 every year- and remember we have more than a dozen tribal CHAAs that could be potentially used as a buffer to maintain some flexibility to better ensure rural coverage over the long haul.

  9. Pat Letteer says:

    unreasonable. Good most all of the rules are and if the shady so called non profit…Dispensaries…lol get in favor for that, we should all get our grow rights if we want to grow our own medicine, if you take that away why even bother renewing card lol it’s cheaper on the black market anyways lol No 25 Mile Rule!

  10. Mr. Green says:

    There is so many things wrong with your 25 mile rule it make us all sick! It’s our right to be able to grow or not! Most of the so called rules are B.S. and Az is giving a bad example of how Great Medical Marijuana can help us ALL! It’s not for the rich to get richer! It’s for the people! P.s The crow thing was a joke from the start, get real come on! Toss the whole 25 mile out!

    • Will Humble says:

      The statute limits growing within 25 miles of a dispensary- not our regulations (administrative code). We can’t write code that’s in conflict with statute.

      • Anonymous says:

        What about code that goes against the Arizona state constitution? This will be ended, either by the coming court cases or the new legalize and regulate laws for recreational. This is happening exponentially & before you know it, it will be over and your work here in this will be done. California’s program makes soooo much more sense. I choose my own doctor who recommends it and prints the card that activates the laws to protect the patient. No state run monopoly and the patients are stoked to see new dispensaries, not loathing them to open within 25 miles. The dispensaries have the best meds because they have lines of caregivers to choose from to buy the best of the best and they are not risking violating federal law by going over 99 plants. It’s a much better system because they have had since 1996 to work out the kinks via law suits. We should have payed closer attention to the oldest system in the country. This system does not violate our state constitution either, like our current one does.

  11. James says:

    Understood and I, like many others in the industry truly applaud your efforts. However, it appears from those looking from the outside in that DHS takes 2 steps forward and moves 1 step backwards — and often times has no one to blame but itself.

    Everyone accepted the CHAA schematic. You have applicants in the rural CHAA’s who have resigned themselves to the fact they were going to be in the rural CHAA’s. These dispensaries are servicing patients who lost their cultivation rights, which was a stated DHS goal. You spent all of this time devising the system and people spent enormous amounts of time, money and resources to find facilities under the CHAA model. Now, 24 months from now, you’re going to throw the CHAA system to the wind by telling anyone they can move anywhere. Do you really think anyone is going to voluntarily stay in San Miguel when they can move to Tucson, Flagstaff, Phoenix or Prescott? How are you going to avoid clustering, which you initially indicated was a concern? While you’re reallocating certificates — which no one expected — patients will once again receive their right to cultivate which is what you said you wanted to avoid.

    I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about the patient’s cultivation rights; I just don’t understand how DHS states a goal, but implements rules that are counter-indicated to achieve those goals.

    I could be wrong Director Humble, but it just doesn’t seem like a good allocation of resources and it seems like you’re unnecessarily creating unintended consequences. Businesses thrive on certainty; not on a program that changes every 2-3 years without any apparent direction.

    Referencing your aside – you know good and well that if the activists — and you know who they are (DHS has been sued by them before) — think that you’re shuffling your feet on fully implementing the program, you’re going to face additional litigation. It shouldn’t take 6 years to roll out 126 dispensaries, particularly given the number of applicants you deemed “qualified’” by permitting them to participate in the lottery. You’re going to “save” certificates to fill in as a buffer in those rural CHAA’s that had dispensaries in the first place that never had to move???

    I am not second guessing you. My issue is the integrity and loss of credibility of the program. I don’t have an agenda one way or the other. I just want DHS to impose reasonable deadlines, hold people to the voracity of the documents they submit, provide an avenue for oversight beside M2Dispensaries – even if you deny the request — and for the program to proceed where everyone has a fair opportunity.

    I know you’re doing your best under some serious political pressures. It’s just hard as those of us who are in the industry witness something happening – such as the most recent ruling – and know that the wool is being pulled over your eyes. Good luck!

    • Will Humble says:

      I wanted to sweeten the pot in rural AZ to get some initial dispensaries up with the 3 year clause- so we’d get some applications out there right away.

      You’re proposing that we change the rules to pull back the opportunity to move after 3 years to a new CHAA. Whether the decision to put that regulation into our standards was right or wrong, would you change now, after people have made their business decisions to apply in rural AZ?

      People have invested under the current set of standards good or bad.

      Whether you agree or not with the initial rules- perhaps you can understand my reluctance to shift now.

      • James says:

        In regards to the ability to relocate dispensaries after 3 years, I think what is of paramount importance is the integrity of the program and patient access, don’t you?

        People applied in rural CHAA’s because they weren’t competitive, not because of the ability to move in 3 years. If you give dispensary owners plenty of notice and explain a reason for the change in rules well in advance, the upside well outweighs the downside. You have repeatedly indicated rules are subject to change as well they should be when it furthers the success of the program.

        Rules change. People also applied knowing they had a FIRM one year term in which to apply for their ATO – you see they had no problem taking you to court to throw out that rule!

        Given that you are apparently revamping the rules, I believe that a little introspection as to what needs to be revamped and what furthers the department’s stated goals in order.

        Hopefully you are preparing to minimally notify those certificate holders who can’t get their ATO’s by August 7th that they need to provide your department with documentation proving the voracity of their applications. It is our contention — unsuccessful applicants who were fully prepared to open — that several of those applications were fraudulent – applicants claimed they had monies and with a modicum of investigation, you’ll determine no such funds existed, no such property was secured and no diligence was exercised to open after they ran into an obstacle.

        How hard is it really to determine whether there were valid applications? How do the rules have to change to simply determine that the applicants complied with the rules?

        Director Humble, we really want to believe in the integrity of the program. However, if these plaintiffs are rewarded for ignoring the deadlines with an additional year to open, you might as well get accustomed to an onslaught of lawsuits for years to come.

  12. Yuri says:

    Good evening Director Humble,

    Your department has been charged with a difficult task. I think on the whole it has done an admirable job with a difficult situation.

    As for the 25 mile rule, I think you may be opening a can of worms by going with a driving distance versus a “as the crow flies” distance. I only say this because an “as the crow flies” distance is an objective and easily measurable metric. Your department is likely to garner a lot more lawsuits by people who then may not like the roads you’ve identified as the distance meter. Also keep in mind the difficulties of law enforcement when it comes to home grows. As it stands now, law enforcement does not know who is legally growing and who isn’t without actually checking a card. With the 25 mile rule as it now stands, law enforcement will soon know who is legally growing and who isn’t based on where the operating dispensaries are located.

    While you are revising the rules there is another great concern that is worth taking a serious look at. Dispensaries are supposed to only be able to acquire the medicine they sell through 3 methods – they grow their own, they buy from another licensed dispensary that grew it or it is “donated” by a patient without compensation. The first two are self explanatory. The third is problematic. Do you really believe that a patient will walk in off the street and say “Dude, I’ve got all this extra weed and I want to donate it to you.” It just isn’t going to happen and it is comical to think it does happen.

    Here is what is really going on. A caregiver/patient walks into the dispensary with 10 lbs. of marijuana. He “donates” it to the dispensary. The dispensary then conducts and off the books transaction at a later time and pays the patient/caregiver. The other scenarios include paying the donator as a consultant/board member, etc. Either way, they are all forms of “payment” for marijuana as no other services are provided that justify the compensation.

    The next issue is where are those patients/caregivers getting the marijuana they are “donating” to the dispensary? I can tell you where it is coming from – California, Colorado and illegal grows. How does your department know that the marijuana being “donated” was legally cultivated in Arizona? It doesn’t, and the “donators” know it. I can say with certainty that there is a significant amount of marijuana legally being sold through licensed dispensaries that was illegally obtained.

    So how to fix the problem? I have a reasonable solution. Allow patients/caregivers to only donate the same amounts that they could legally possess. This means that the most an individual patient could “donate” is 2.5 oz. every two weeks. A caregiver could then also only “donate” 15 oz. every two weeks. Because your department requires the recording of all donations, it would be quite easy to tell which patients/caregivers are donating more than they are allowed to legally possess and thus probably obtaining said marijuana through illegal channels. You will quickly see the scourge of illegal growing cease as they would not have a legal outlet for their illegal marijuana. Your department has done an admirable job in tracking the marijuana that goes OUT of the dispensary’s front door but it has done virtually nothing to track the marijuana coming in the dispensary’s back door.

    I would suggest talking with the law enforcement community about any changes to the rules. I think you will find that most of them are actually quite supportive of medical marijuana and they want a well regulated system with a defined set of rules/laws that they can enforce. You will also find that they are quite frustrated with the loopholes that are being exploited. Your department now has an opportunity to shrink those loopholes and create an even better more efficiently regulated system.

    It has been more than 2 years since your department wrote the original rules of the AMMA. This is your opportunity to now improve upon that first draft to ensure that we have a well regulated program as intended.

    I wish you all the best through this challenge.

    Yuri

    • Will Humble says:

      You have some good points here. I think our rules do focus more on inventory out than inventory in- especially given the patient and caregiver wildcards writen into the statute (as opposed to the Rules we developed). I will keep these ideas as we open the rule package.

      • Kirah says:

        Yuri”s comments are well taken…particularly since he is planning a MASSIVE grow. Once our US Attorney starts raiding “massive grows” like his, as he has promised to do, the shortage in meds will be further evidenced.

        What is the reason dispensaries can’t reasonably reimburse caregivers for meds? There will always be some legal caregivers authorized to cultivate. What was the reason for the rule?

  13. Raven says:

    UP NEXT …. 25-mile UN-ruling!

  14. Johnny Hammond says:

    Mr. Humble I know this is a bit off topic for this thread but there is mixture or preparation that makes my medicine stronger and healthier for me. It’s called concentrate. It is an ANY mixture or preparation thereof of cannabis as the rules state. However law enforcement is calling it a narcotic and arresting patients for it. The MMJ law gives protections for these mixtures and preparations. I’m not sure what you would have to change in the rules because it looks to me like hash is covered under the definition of useable marijuana….maybe let law enforcement know that concentrates are covered under the mmj law….unless you have a different meaning of ANY. Thank you for you time sir

    • Kirah says:

      Johnny,
      We have dealt with this. It isn’t DHS. The criminal code reads that MMJ mixed with anything is a narcotic. The AMMA clearly contemplated preparations. Patients like yourself really need to consider clarification from the court. At least in the city of Phoenix, the police consider any preparations to be a narcotic and they will confiscate and/or arrest you.

      Perhaps DHS has another interpretation but as the police told us. DHS is an administrative agency and the police are law enforcement.

      • Will Humble says:

        Thanks. What you’re saying is true. We’re an administrative agency and we only have administrative authority. Police, law enforcement, and prosecutors live in the world where the answers to your questions lie.

  15. James says:

    We’re usually beating up on you, but let whoever was responsible for the newsletter – JOB WELL DONE! Very appreciative of that type of professionalism coming from DHS! Thanks again.

    • Will Humble says:

      Thanks. Like everything- the newsletter is a team effort. We plan to continue to produce the newsletters monthly. At first we were going to have a purely electronic newsletter but we discovered many patients have listed their e-mail address as the e-mail address of their certification clinic- and as such didn’t get the newsletter.

      Because of that, we converted to both an electronic and hard-copy format. We’re hoping that patients that get the hard copy but not the e-mail will see our note and send in their real email address so we can eventually convert to an electronic newsletter.

      What do you think- should we keep the hard-copy for the long run? Do you think patients would prefer the hard-copy format?

      This concept came from a comment I got awhile back asking that we do more patient outreach and education about the program.

      • James says:

        Hard copies are appreciated, because believe it or not, there are several older patients who don’t have electronic access. However, hard copy printing and mailing can be expensive. Not sure whether the department should allocate that much money monthly for postage – could be better expended to reduce fees, patient outreach, clinics, etc.

        Political ramifications and naysayers aside, I can tell you that there truly has been some overwhelmingly remarkable, albeit anecdotal success stories. The newsletter is a great vehicle in which to disseminate information to those of us who are seeking an objective analysis of the data.

        Perhaps you could deliver the newsletters to the dispensaries where they could be distributed to patients. Another option (additionally) might be to create a field on the database so that when the dispensary agent verifies the patient card, if you don’t have a valid email address, a highlighted field could appear with a notation – confirm email address.

        Once again, great effort! I forwarded it to the 1200 on our database. I’ve been getting great feedback from several dispensary owners. The program will be most successful — and gain more widespread acceptance — if there is the perception that DHS isn’t fighting against it.

  16. Michael Totty says:

    Mr. Humble,
    I remember seeing in the original documentation on prop 203 gave 2 reason to be able to opt out on using dispensaries. Now with that said. After losing my grow rights I go days without medicine because I cant really afford meds so every month i have to choose what bill i am not going to pay so i can get some meds. Now this new case decision brings in to contention. If you have to allow dispensaries and undue burden what about undue burden on the several thousand probably patients that are either going without meds because we just flat cant afford it. Now last time I checked the 2 option to opt out have been removed for the prop 203 documents. So how do you suggest we as a patient going through an undue burden go about getting our meds. maybe you guys could use some of that 5.5 million that this program netted over the last year. As far as how you measure the 25 mile rule doesn’t change anything for me. But given the option I would opt out to grow my own because for what I would pay for the cheapest 14 grams you can find which is between 100 and 120 I could pay the increased electricity use along with everything else i need to sustain a grow that would supply me with anywhere from 42 to 56 grams every 2 week. I will say this 14 grams wouldn’t last me a month and it really doesn’t last both me and my wife who is also a patient very long at all. Thank for your time Mr. Humble

    ~Michael Totty

    • Will Humble says:

      The statutory language in the law that was approved by the voters restricts self cultivation when the patient lives within 25 miles of a dispensary. There was only one version on the circulating petitions and the voter guide. The reason everyone had grow rights the first year is that the dispensaries were delayed because of legal issues.

  17. James says:

    Just saw Mr. Totty’s email. After their first year of operation, dispensaries really do need to step up to help patients who can’t afford meds. There is some language in the MA rule that REQUIRES dispensaries provide low cost meds, when mandated. Perhaps adding this language might be considered as DHS revamps the rules.

  18. Speaking Truth to Power says:

    Mr. Humble,

    Your newsletter is very nice but has many mistakes and typo and why did you scrub off my posting offering to do free proof reading for your department? You have no right to scrub off my comments especially when they are offering you help. Please let this posting see the light of day and really can’t you even accept any constructive feedback without going all Taliban on the person posting it?

  19. bill says:

    We entered your lottery under your rules—if we were not lucky enough to win the lottery we lost our money. Under your rules the people that won the lottery, had 1 year to get their operation up and running, if they did not, they would forfeit their rights and there would be another round of dispensary applications and possibly another lottery?
    Next lawsuit—you kept my money under false pretenses– you changed time limits—I want my money back!!!! Maybe your next lawsuit.

    bill

    • James says:

      Bill,
      Where were you when this lawsuit was filed? You and anyone like you should have had an attorney there making that exact point! We couldn’t even get people to attend the hearing, let alone object! The state did the best it could. If you want to exercise your rights – and you are absolutely right, this was a ridiculous suit filed by dispensary owners who sat back and did nothing.

      I am hopeful that DHS will hold those applicants to the voracity of their applications – they claimed the had money they didn’t have and they claimed they had locations they didn’t have – but as of now, we’ve seen nothing.

      The integrity of the program is in jeopardy, not because of losing the lawsuit, but because DHS doesn’t appear to be acting proactively.

  20. Bill H says:

    If there is confusion caused by the legislation and an old narcotic law, why not do the admirable thing and stop the patients you are authorizing to use these products from getting arrested for doing so by asking the State of Arizona to make a judicial decision in the matter Mr Humble?
    You have the authority to do that.

    I would also go so far as to say you have an obligation to do so as you have apparently placed thousands of patients at risk of prosecution by granting them medical marijuana cards through your department, under the pretenses if they follow what is written in ARS 28.1 as well as the rules and regulations set forth by azdhs which clearly allow for the use of edibles and other similar type use products, that they are “not subject to arrest” yet you know there is a conflict and that is one of several reasons the back of that mmj card says what it does.

    Why allow patients, people with verified medical conditions suffer through needless and senseless incarceration when a simple request for judicial interpretation is clearly in order.

    why have the state get sued again? police departments and officers get sued?

    Why have people already suffering, the patients, suffer more??

    Please, everyone, remember the purpose of the AMMA…
    “to protect patients from prosecution”

    for acting in accordance with ARS 28.1 and the AZDHS R&R.

    Dispensaries are selling products and patients are being arrested for those products and the state of AZ is collecting tax dollars off those sales.

    I’m sure you can see how this is starting to look from where we, the patients are standing.

    1 love Az

  21. anonymous says:

    First, thank you for trying the best you can…but I hope you are beginning to realize that this is not your responsibility and this cause is much bigger than your position can handle. We are trying to legalize NATURE again. This program is a stepping stone and hopefully will fade into history very quickly as new laws come around that are most likely stepping stones unto the path of full legalization of a non-toxic plant and one of our greatest natural resources that can bring this state and country out of a recession just out of hemps industrial applications alone. Then when coupled with medical and recreational usage of a non-toxic alternative that doesn’t impact our motor skills…well, I see nothing but good things from this. Not to mention billions of dollars saved from to enforce corrupt laws against nature and humanity. Who loses? Law enforcement loses a big budget but will gain respect again. However, the pharamceutical industrial complex, alcohol, cigarettes…these companies will all take a big hit. Where are our ethics these days? Invest in nature, invest in liberty and free choice, invest in bio-diversity and abolish the racism and fear propaganda that this war was started on to promote synthetic monopolies.

  22. Rebecca says:

    Mr Humble,
    You keep saying that the 25 mile limitation is a statute. Since that is the case how do we go about amending that limitation? Many, many of the people who are card holders are on some form of limited income and cannot afford the high prices that a dispensary charges. Also those who grow are growing the best meds that are right for them and may not be available in a dispensary.They have paid $300 dollars in order to to get a card (at least that is what it costs here in Prescott to get a Dr. who will examine your records and make the decision to sign the paperwork and then the cost of the paperwork it’s self).
    It just makes sense for growing to be an option. I know there exists the posibility for abuse but, that is the case with all things of this nature. In my mind, most of the card holders will not want to grow as they have no interest or skills to do so. Those wo do want to grow will not be a burden or negative effect on the dispensaries. Personally if I grow and had more that I was legally able to posses then I WOULD donate it to a compassion club or dispensary without compensation provided I knew they would provide it at a very reduced cost to those who migt have trouble paying the higher prices!

    • Will Humble says:

      There are basically 2 ways to change (eliminate) the 25 mile provision. The legislature could pass a bill with a supermajority amending or eliminating that provision. The governor would then need to sign it. In addition, it must be determined to “further the intent of the act”.

      Alternatively- the voters could pass a follow up voter initiative that eliminated the 25 mile provision.

      • Doug says:

        Mr Humble,
        I believe that you forgot another way to change (eliminate) the 25 mile provision. A court order. You should be familiar with this means by now.

      • D.Cassidy says:

        Technically there are many ways to eliminate the 25 mile prohibition but when the authorizing body sets goals and objectives on NOT having home cultivators/self-providers it will be next to impossible simply because only the “applicable statutes and rules” apply to the implementation of the AMMA and disregard the Supreme Land of the Land – “To preserve the freedom of Arizonans” – nothing more nothing less. The consent of the governed create governments and give rise to its power – “All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.” It is an exchange of power by the People for the protection of their Rights. “Come to this land of sunshine To this land where life is young. Where the wide, wide world is waiting, The songs that will now be sung. Where the golden sun is flaming Into warm, white, shining day, And the sons of men are blazing Their priceless right of way. Come stand beside the rivers Within our valleys broad. Stand here with heads uncovered, In the presence of our God! While all around, about us The brave, unconquered band, As guardians and landmarks The giant mountains stand. Not alone for gold and silver Is Arizona great. But with graves of heroes sleeping, All the land is consecrate! O, come and live beside us However far ye roam Come and help us build up temples And name those temples “home.”
        Sing the song that’s in your hearts Sing of the great Southwest, Thank God, for Arizona In splendid sunshine dressed. For thy beauty and thy grandeur, For thy regal robes so sheen We hail thee Arizona Our Goddess and our queen.” XXXX

  23. D.Cassidy says:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    It has been brought to the attention of the patients of Arizona, through comments on your blog, the Phoenix New Times, as well as the recent arrests/detention of patients in the media that the use of concentrates, edibles, tinctures and any other product that contains extracted marijuana.
    In particular A.R.S. 13-3401(20)(w) defines a narcotic drug, among other things, as “cannabis”. Cannabis, in turn, is defined by A.R.S. 13-3401(4) as follows:
    “Cannabis” means 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.

    b. Every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such resin or tetrahydrocannabinol.

    On the other hand The definition of “usable marijuana” in the AMMA, however, specifically includes “any mixture or preparation” of the dried flowers, which is language that mimics the narcotics drug statute. The pertinent part of the definition of “usable marijuana” in the AMMA as follows:
    “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.” (see A.R.S. § 36-2801(15)).

    Also, in the rules and regulations supplied by AZDHS, the following language was included, respectfully, again only the pertinent portion is included,
    “C. 8. The dispensary’s by-laws including:
    b. Whether the dispensary plans to:
    v. Prepare, sell, or dispense marijuana-infused edible food products;
    vi. Prepare, sell, or dispense marijuana-infused non-edible products;”

    The patients of Arizona are respectfully requesting clarification regarding the purpose of the language listed above, C.8-b.v-vi.
    As the administrative agency in charge of overseeing the promulgating of the rules and regulations many of us rely on AZDHS for direction in navigating the complicated language contained within A.R.S. § 36-2801.
    The language of proposition 203 states ” the purpose of this act is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties and property forfeiture if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana.”

    Mr Humble, AZDHS staff, please maintain the spirit of the AMMA, as well as the written text of the document and assist in the protection of Arizona’s Medical marijuana patients by supplying the purpose of the language quoted above from the Rules & Regulations. state licensed dispensaries are selling products, authorized by the AZDHS, that they could then in turn be charged with a narcotics possession crime for having.All while within the current language of the AZDHS Rules & Regulations as well as the text of the AMMA itself.

    Please offer any assistance and guidance you can in this matter. Your office’s website states the “Administrative Counsel provides legal support to the Department’s Director and Executive Team and acts as a *liaison* between the Department and the Attorney General’s Office.” so you have the authority to ask for a statement from the Attorney General’s office regarding this matter.
    Also from the AZDHS website, same page, “Administrative Rules provides assistance to the Department’s Director and Executive Team by providing interpretation of rules and state statutes. In addition, Administrative Rules provides rulemakings, substantive policy statements, agency guidance documents, five-year review reports, and licensing timeframe reports.” Again, AZDHS has the authority to and seemingly the responsibility to address this issue as the health and safety of the patients being incarcerated is also directly effected by this lack of clarity.
    Many other states (Colorado, Washington, Michigan, etc) have done similar tasks within their departments without the matter having to go before a judge for declaratory judgement.

    Please help Arizona’s MMJ patients get clarification on this matter. After the recent CNN special with Dr Gupta many people are aware of the potential benefits of using concentrated forms of medical marijuana in patients such as children with Epilepsy and extending through a gambit of ages and ailments all the way to the now very public knowledge of mmj use for Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers thanks to patent 6630507 being made mainstream knowledge by Dr Gupta. Concentrates are a vital portion of the treatment of many diseases from cancer to asthma. Patients have a vested interest in your reply.

    The Great People of Arizona Thank You

    • Will Humble says:

      You have some good points, and thanks for putting the issue together in an organized way. I just sent an email to my Admin Council to take a look at this and determine where to go from here. The ARS language in different Articles and our rules seem to overlap in some areas but not in others. Stay tuned- but this may not be a quick resolution.

      • D. Cassidy says:

        Dear Sir,

        Thank you!

        We look forward to the resolution of all these conflicting issues and most importantly the resolution of any overlapping language which has incarcerated a multitude of Registered Qualifying Patients due to the Act being interrupted to one’s liking and disregarding the Intent within the Preambles of the Act. Thank you for seeking clarification on these issues.

        Respectfully,
        D.Cassidy

      • NeedingClarification says:

        Dear Mr. Humble,

        The “allowable amount” of medical marijuana for a qualified patient or caregiver is listed as 2.5 oz every two weeks. However, for those who still have their grow rights, 12 plants would obviously produce more than 2.5 oz. Is the 2.5 oz the amount a patient/caregiver may purchase from a dispensary, or the legal amount a cardholder is allowed to possess? Also, if a patient or caregiver grows more than 2.5 oz, how could they bring their excess meds to a dispensary for donation without violating the law? Thank you for your time.

  24. Crohns says:

    What’s this about Mr. Humble? New lawsuit about 25 mile rule. Patients loosing their choices to self cultivate, investment costs, and financially on limited income. Also lose access to meds they were cultivating for themselves. Now the original law doesn’t mention the 25 mile rule and that’s what the voters voted in. Now the revisions were changed after the fact from the law that was passed. That’s like saying we can’t cultivate our own vegetables and you have to go to the grocery store. A lot of patients also use mmj as a supplement and yerb. So I ask you to think of patient as if this was one of your own. If it’s political then you would receive more support from patients. Either way we all know Arizona constitution when it comes to health care.

    Thanks for the chat. From patient with Crohns and family who passed from cancer.

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/08/20/60423.htm#sthash.jCiT6JB3.gbpl

  25. ranvir says:

    Thank you so much for your compliments. It’s nice to know our work is read and appreciated!

  26. jim says:

    Robert, notice how he won’t address the wide spread thought of illegal out of state product coming in to their stores? I have a feeling he knows and is turning a blind eye to it. I truly hope this is not the case. if it is, I think he may get nailed by the feds for allowing this. your thoughts?

  27. ripperAZ says:

    You know what will end all the challenges and rule rewriting and regulations will become easier, more transparent and immune to fringe attack.

    In a few years, when the STATE COFFERS become addicted to the ever increasing tax revenue (tens to hundreds of millions) and fees generated by honest Arizonan’s who continue to jump through hoops and face hardships that 16 year olds who want a much more damaging bottle of VODKA do not have to, to get ahold of a previously free growing plant that was clearly put on this earth for it’s useful properties,and one that has far fewer side effects that the bunkum big PHARMA forces pass the FED and STATES in their horrifically litigated and dangerous pills and potions!

    It’s 2013 Folks and is will soon be 4:20 somewhere

  28. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could
    connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or
    two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

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