Pubdate: Thu, 01 Dec 2016
Source: Tucson Weekly (AZ)
Copyright: 2016 Tucson Weekly
Author: Nick Meyers


Arizona continues efforts towards legal marijuana

The failure of Prop 205 may have been a sobering realization for some,
but others still have high hopes for the future of marijuana in Arizona.

Several new efforts have popped up to change the landscape of
Arizona's marijuana landscape since voters rejected this year's
recreational proposition.

The most promising initiative comes from the Independent Wellness
Center in Apache Junction, and intends not to legalize recreational
marijuana, but to increase the number of qualifying conditions for
patients to be eligible for a medical marijuana card.

This fact may help the initiative's proponents avoid the ire of the
forces that opposed Prop 205 since much of that opposition stood on
the ground that medical marijuana was already readily available.

Arizona's current qualifying conditions already include the most
common diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, and HIV/AIDS and conditions
like chronic pain, nausea and seizures.

The Arizona Department of Health Services even saw fit to use its
authority to add post-traumatic stress disorder to that list in 2015.

The Independent Wellness Center's initiative would seek to add
insomnia, psoriasis, Tourette's syndrome, neuropathy and fibromyalgia
to that list so long as the collect the requisite signatures prior to
voting in 2018.

Additionally, the proposed proposition would change limitations on
grow rights, decreasing the distance one must live from a dispensary
from 25 to one mile to grow marijuana plants.

Arizona still has more medical marijuana patients than the national
average with 1.86 percent of the population using the medication
compared to 0.86 percent nationally, but increasing the number of
qualifying conditions could increase that number.

The new initiative works simultaneously with the class action lawsuit
brought against AZDHS to for the high price of obtaining medical
marijuana certification.

The lawsuit alleges the AZDHS is sitting on $15 million in excess cash
brought in from fees for medical marijuana certification, which
currently cost between $75 and $200 depending on income and caregiver
status. The lawsuit claims the per-patient cost to the state is around

But if the new legislation passes, customers could see the added
benefit of a decrease in the price of the medical marijuana they purchase.

Marijuana is generally cheaper in states with more patients and legal
recreational marijuana, according to data compiled from a Forbes study
in 2015 and patient numbers from the Marijuana Policy Project.

This goes against general economic wisdom in supply and demand, since
an increased demand tends to increase market prices, but if Arizona
enrolls more patients through lower costs for certifications and more
qualifying conditions, data suggests the weed might be cheaper, too.

With 31 new dispensaries on the way, the supply might just be able to
work itself out.

Finally, one hopeful state congressman plans to introduce legislation
to legalize marijuana recreationally.

Rep. Mark Cardenas from Phoenix's west side hopes the support rallied
by Prop 205 will carry into the state's legislature once the session
begins next year. He introduced a similar bill last year that got shot
down before even making it to a committee.

If Cardenas' new bill is anything like last years, users would be able
to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and five plants in addition to
the marijuana produced by those plants, so long as it remains in the
vicinity of those plants.

The AZDHS would still be responsible for overseeing regulation of the
industry, so at least it has that leg up on Prop 205.

More initiatives are sure to arise in the coming months as Arizonans
continue to crave that kush, but in the meantime, medical just be the
way to go.
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MAP posted-by: Matt