State government authority and policy is driven by laws that are established by the Legislature and carried out by the Governor through the Executive Branch. Sometimes laws are passed directly by the voters (called a voter initiative). Many state laws require state agencies to develop regulations to “flesh out” the laws they pass by giving state agencies “Rulemaking” authority to provide the details. The Rulemaking process is governed by the Arizona Administrative Procedure Act. Some laws (like the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) allow agency directors to modify laws on their own, and then follow up later with rule changes.
Sometimes state agencies decide that the Rules they’ve adopted can use some extra clarification to help people understand them better. Agencies can develop what are called Substantive Policy Statements – which advise the public about the procedures the agency will follow as they interpret and implement the rules that they’ve officially adopted.
You can think of state laws as the “skeleton”, agency rules as the “muscle and other tissue”, and a substantive policy statement as an “outfit”.
For example, this week we filed a Substantive Policy Statement clarifying my Decision to authorize medical marijuana for registered patients that are currently undergoing conventional treatment for PTSD beginning January 1. Certifying physicians will be required to attest that they have reviewed evidence documenting that the patient is currently undergoing conventional treatment for PTSD before signing the medical marijuana certification.
The new Substantive Policy Statement provides the public with clarification of our interpretation of what constitutes treatment for PTSD, allowing a qualifying patient to get a medical marijuana registry identification card. The Statement clarifies that treatment could include, but isn’t limited to, psychotherapy (counseling); participation in support groups to help the qualifying patient feel less isolated or alone; or the use of medications to help the qualifying patient with reducing depression, relaxing, or sleeping.