An article in the Arizona Republic on Sunday, May 1 included a couple of sentences regarding medical direction at dispensaries that are inaccurate, so I’m writing this to clear it up. The May 1 article suggests that “the presence of an outstanding medical director could be the biggest contributor to an applicant being chosen among competitors to operate a dispensary…” This is not the case. Our rules require that each dispensary applicant identify their medical director and that medical directors need to be licensed to practice medicine in the State of Arizona. As we review applications for dispensary licenses we will ensure that a dispensary’s medical director is licensed in Arizona, but we will not be doing a qualitative analysis of each medical director. In other words, there is no advantage to having a medical director that is in some way professionally distinguished, the only requirement is that they be licensed to practice in AZ.
The article also stated that “Each (medical) director should be physically present during hours of operation...”. This is also not the case. Medical directors can either be physically present or able to be contacted “by any means such as telephone or pager” during business hours.
One of the key elements that distinguish the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program from those in other states is our requirement that dispensaries employ or contract with an Arizona licensed physician (MD, DO, Homeopath or Naturopath) to provide oversight at the dispensary. A dispensary’s medical director has a wide range of responsibilities including developing and maintaining information and training for dispensary agents and customers regarding self assessment, identifying signs of abuse or misuse, and other critical criteria. A dispensary medical director is not permitted to provide written certifications for medical marijuana (once they become a dispensary medical director). The full range of duties for dispensary medical directors is in R9-17-313 of our final and official administrative code.