Pubdate: Sun, 05 Aug 2012
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2012 The Arizona Republic
Author: Gary Nelson


Ahwatukee Has Only 1 Applicant

Ahwatukee will learn next week whether its only applicant for a 
medical-marijuana dispensary license will be authorized to set up shop.

For most of Arizona's 126 so-called community health analysis areas, 
multiple applicants are seeking state permission to sell marijuana 
for treatment of medical conditions.

The Arizona Department of Health Services will conduct a lottery for 
those zones on Tuesday.

Ahwatukee, which is among several zones in Phoenix, had only one 
dispensary application.

But the portion of Phoenix south of South Mountain has 327 people 
with physicians' approval to use medical marijuana, and an 
unspecified number -- fewer than 20 -- who are authorized caregivers.

The Phoenix City Council immediately began wrestling with where to 
allow dispensaries after Arizona voters in 2010 gave razor-thin 
approval to Proposition 203, which allows the sale of medical-grade 
marijuana to people who have a doctor's permission to use it for 
certain conditions.

The council ruled in December 2010 that dispensaries must receive 
special-use permits and that they be allowed only in commercial 
shopping centers.

Phoenix also limits growing facilities to industrial/warehouse 
districts and agricultural land. Distances are specified from 
churches, homes, parks and schools.

The medical-marijuana law survived a court battle launched when Gov. 
Jan Brewer filed a lawsuit seeking clarification of its provisions. A 
county judge dismissed the suit in January and Brewer did not appeal.

That does not mean, however, that there is clear sailing ahead.

Arizona, the 16 other states with medical-marijuana laws and the 
District of Columbia are bucking federal law that prohibits the 
substance. The U.S. Department of Justice in March reiterated a 
warning that state employees are subject to federal prosecution for 
implementing Prop. 203.

Other states have seen federal raids on marijuana facilities that 
were ostensibly legal under state law.

In Mesa, police officials said, when the council was debating the 
issue, that marijuana shops in other states have attracted criminals 
preying on the patients and the shops.

In addition, legal complications could arise from a county judge's 
ruling this year that because growing marijuana is illegal under 
federal law, contracts between marijuana facilities and other people 
are not legally enforceable.

The Arizona Department of Health Services, which is administering the 
program, has volumes of information on its website about the 
legalities and procedures of implementing the law.

The department also lists, by district, the numbers of dispensary 
applications, qualified patients and caregivers. Names of dispensary 
applicants are not disclosed.

At this point, qualified patients and caregivers are the only ones 
who can legally cultivate marijuana.

Each patient may cultivate as many as 12 plants. Each caregiver may 
have no more than five patients, and could cultivate as many as 60 plants.

When the dispensaries are opened, cultivation centers also will be 
legally allowed under state law.

Once a dispensary opens within 25 miles of a patient's home, the 
patient is no longer allowed to grow or obtain product from a 
caregiver. Given that criterion, very few people in the Phoenix metro 
area will be allowed to grow their own.

On the Gila River Indian Reservation, however, no one has applied for 
a dispensary license, but the state says there are as many as 19 
approved patients.

Those patients conceivably could legally grow their own supply.

Statewide, nearly 30,000 patients have qualified to take marijuana 
for a wide variety of ailments, including cancer and glaucoma.

By far the largest group sought approval to take marijuana for "chronic pain."

State health director Will Humble on July 20, however, rejected 
adding four conditions for which marijuana may be used: migraines, 
generalized anxiety disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Humble said "there is insufficient valid, scientific evidence" to 
justify including those conditions.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom