Today I was served with a lawsuit that challenges the State (and the Department) for not implementing the dispensary portion of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. The case, filed in the AZ Court of Appeals, asks a judge to order us to follow the rules that we published on April 14 and begin accepting dispensary applications.
We worked very hard to implement the law until we received a letter from the U.S. Attorney in Arizona. That letter, dated May 2, states the Department of Justice will: “…continue to vigorously prosecute individuals and organizations that participate in activity…involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law.” “Individuals and organizations…that knowingly facilitate the actions of traffickers should also know that compliance with AMMA will not protect them from federal prosecution….”
With that information, the Governor and I (with the advice of attorneys) decided not to continue with full implementation of the Act until we receive clarification about whether it’s legal from the federal court. We’ve suspended the implementation of dispensary portions of the law and aren’t currently accepting any applications. As of today, we’ve had three groups try to apply for a dispensary certificate and we’ve turned them away.
We began accepting and processing applications for Qualifying Patients and Designated Caregivers several weeks ago and we’re still accepting and processing these applications. As of June 9th, we’ve approved more than 5,000 Patient and 126 Caregiver cards.
You could end all this litigation by putting up a new timeline for the Dispensary piece and say you will accept applications in April 2012 and that way you are not in violation of anything. Where is it written in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act the date when you have to accept applications? Rhode Island has been working on the dispensary piece for 3 years now so there is no rush to do this wrong on the Dispensaries. Keep them in on the back burner for awhile until everything is litigated and then open the doors in April 2012. Also ditch the CHAA system which is flawed and not well thought out. Now that the feds in the
Burke letter told you that Indian Land is not to be used for dispensaries that blows your CHAA system out of the water since you were allocating dispensaries to the tribes.
If Medical THC dispensaries are not permited to operate IAW AZ state law, will all Patient MTHC cards automatically become de facto ‘Authorized To Cultivate’ since there won’t be any dispensaries ‘within 25 miles radius’ of any patient?
Larry E Arenas,
Patients must specify cultivate on their cards, if they didn’t do so with the original application they must change it. Instructions were emailed..also, a caregiver can be the cultivator.
I have my Medcard, but it’s worthless to me without having the dispenaries open. Very frustrating. I spend quite a lot of time in CA and CO, and medical marijuana is legal there, and dispenaries are open. Why is it so difficult in AZ? The people of our state voted to approve it, let’s man up and get on with it!
So… I am confused. You will allow people to grow unregulated medical marijuana ….? You are not willing to implement the laws written by the state….? So, basically it is a free for all…. ? I thought Az wanted to be different … about the patient care? In addition …think of all the jobs lost….? The people have spoken…why is nobody listening….?
Mr. Humble – with all due respect, what is the difference between approving 5000 users and 126 caregivers to grow/use (and potentially traffic) vs. approving dispensaries to grow/sell medical marijuana? These users/caregivers also “participate in activity involving marijuana” and could be prosecuted under the same federal laws that you are concerned about, as well as your department for enabling them. It seems that the potential dispensary operators are being unfairly singled out, when in reality the DHS is just as liable whether you approve a user, caregiver, or dispensary agent. If you are waiting for clarification, then stop giving user/caregiver cards – or open up the program for everyone as intended.
Any news on the amend feature? There are a lot of us waiting to be caregivers and a lot of patients waiting for caregivers. Patients are having a hard time finding medication and most are not experienced in growing.
Not yet, but emails were sent out to cardholders explaining how to make changes.
I am a patient and received no such email.
The change forms are online now at http://www.azdhs.gov.
Dispensaries will only encourage recreational users to try and navigate into the medical marijuana services. Hopefully the Feds take a very long time to define the clarification.
I don’t feel that there will be a defining of anything at all. The federal government is pretty clear on their stance. NO….
Drew, I have this to say. If recreational users were using before they will continue to use. But it is true that they will attept to obtain access to dispenseries. Just because there are laws doesn’t mean every one fallows them. But why should the people who can benifit from the medicinal purposes then be effected. The old saying goes “Two wrongs don’t make a right”
In reading your blog I’ve noticed many repetitive Q&As. Perhaps adding these redundant Q&As (mine included) to a FAQs page would be more productive. Then preface your Blog with a link to the FAQ page THEN have your blog start AFTER readers review it? Could save you some valuable time. Thanks!
It seems to me that the best solution is for the government to initiate farms. That will curtail criminal activity. Dispensers then will obtain the marijuana legally. In addition, didpensers should be required to keep a reguster of users so that they can be monitored as legitimately using for medical reasons.