Drug Law

Arizona Releases New Medical Marijuana Guidelines

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The most recent medical marijuana state has released it’s rules for their new program today. The Arizona Department of Health Services released the final version of the state’s medical marijuana regulations, after months of writing and rewriting drafts of the rules.

Proposition 203 was passed with the consent of the Arizona voters in November. The 92 page rule book is the guidelines in which qualifying patients, their caregivers, physicians, and any dispensary and cultivation centers must follow. Along with the rule packet being released today, a certification document that all qualifying patients will need to have their physician complete in order to be receive the state’s authorization to become a medical marijuana patient.

Dispensaries must operate as non-profit centers and they will need to have checklists of security features installed, such as video cameras on entrances and exits and cameras in any grow rooms that can identify activity under low light conditions. Panic buttons must be installed in various places inside of the building as well as rules for storing records, selling edibles and labeling medical marijuana sold. All medical marijuana sold in any Arizona dispensaries must have the following warning label;

“ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES’ WARNING: Marijuana use can be addictive and can impair an individuals ability to drive a motor vehicle or operate heavy machinery. Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and can lead to an increased risk for cancer, tachycardia, hypertension, heart attack, and lung infection. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN”

Fees were also outlined, dispensary registration will cost $5000 for the first year and $1000 after that. If you want to change your location or add a cultivation site, that will cost you another $2500. The fees might seem reasonable, but you must also provide a finacial statement that proves you have $150,000 available to run the business before you open your doors. A patient will have to shell out $150 year, and a caregiver will need to pony up $200 a year for that privilege. There will be a program for lower income level patients to pay a reduced rate of $75 per year.

For a physician recommending marijuana to a patient, they must fill out a statement that includes all kinds of information about the reason to recommend, and signaling that the doctor has done a complete review of the patients records from ANY physician in the last twelve months, a statement about conventional methods tried by the patients before marijuana and a statement that the risk of marijuana were explained in detail. Caregivers must also fill out statements that they pledge not to divert marijuana to anyone other than the patient or patients they are helping and they must provide personal information like fingerprints, address, any previous names, birthdate, social security number, citizenship status, race, height, weight, hair and eye color and place of birth and a background check.

The rules also include the legal number of days the department can take to process any applications or changes to existing records, and the process for denial or any kind of revocation of an existing card or registration certificate. You must receive an approval or denial withing 15 working days from the application being recieved. The process for medical marijuana dispensaries has already begun, but they can begin to submitt their applications to the Health Department begining on June 1st. The rules will officially go into effect on April 14th.