Pubdate: Wed, 22 Feb 2012
Source: Eastern Arizona Courier (AZ)
Copyright: 2012 Eastern Arizona Courier
Author: Jon Johnson


What do the names Blue Dreams, G-13 Haze, Canna Sutra, Crimea Blue,
Purple Kush, Romulan, S.A.G.E, Vortex, Sour OG Kush and A-Train have
in common? They are some of the most popular strains of medical-grade
cannabis, and they could be on Arizona dispensaries' shelves this summer.

Arizona became the 16th state to allow medical marijuana after voters
passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act on Nov. 2, 2010, and it
became law Dec. 14, 2010. According to the proposition, its purpose
"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." There are currently 17 other
states with pending legislation to legalize the use of cannabis for
medicinal use.

Under the Arizona law, if a patient lives more than 25 miles from a
medical marijuana dispensary, the patient can cultivate up to 12
cannabis plants and caregivers can cultivate up to 12 plants for each
patient, with a maximum of five patients per caregiver. Those with
state-issued medical marijuana cards are permitted to possess up to
2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks, and a caregiver can possess up
to 2.5 ounces every two weeks per patient.

The law went into effect in early 2011, but just as the Arizona
Department of Heath Services was poised to begin accepting
applications for dispensaries, Governor Jan Brewer filed a lawsuit May
27, 2011, to seek clarification as to whether federal law that makes
cannabis illegal trumps the state medical marijuana law and if state
workers faced possible federal prosecution for implementing state law.

United States District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled in favor of a
motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and dismissed the
case. Bolton said because of a lack of evidence, Brewer's complaint
was not appropriate for judicial review.

Brewer accepted the ruling and directed the ADHS to begin accepting
and processing dispensary applications, but said no license would be
issued until another lawsuit - this time filed against the ADHS over
rules it made up for dispensary applications - was settled.

That lawsuit, Compassion First LLC v. State of Arizona, was filed
because the plaintiffs argued the rules made up by the ADHS would
exclude them from the dispensary selection process. The lawsuit also
alleged that the rules were unconstitutional.

On Jan. 17, Maricopa Superior Court Judge J. Richard Gama granted a
summary judgment for the plaintiffs and said regulations requiring
dispensary applicants to be an Arizona resident for three years, to
have never filed for personal or corporate bankruptcy and requiring
applicants to submit an Arizona personal income tax returns for the
previous three years and other regulations were unconstitutionally
vague and invalid. The judge then ordered the state to implement the
lawful provisions of the AMMA.

ADHS Director Will Humble wrote in his Jan. 25 blog that his
department's goal is to accept applications in April and potentially
award up to 125 dispensary licenses by mid-June. Humble said by that
timetable, it could be likely that medical marijuana dispensaries
would be operational by July or August. One dispensary will be allowed
to operate for each Community Health Analysis Area.

Safford's CHAA consists of southern Graham County and takes in the
Gila Valley. As of Jan. 3, there were 75 approved medical marijuana
patients and three caregivers in the southern Graham County CHAA and
29 patients and one caregiver in the Duncan/Morenci CHAA.

Nearly 18,000 medical marijuana patient applications were received
between April 14, 2011, and Jan. 3, 2012 with only eight denied. The
age groups with the most applications were 18-30-year olds and
41-50-year olds with about 23 percent each. The overwhelming majority
of reported medical conditions was chronic pain (87 percent) followed
by muscle spasms (14 percent) and nausea (12.6 percent.) Some patients
reported more than one condition, which resulted in the percentages
exceeding 100. About 75 percent of the approved patients are men.
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MAP posted-by: Matt