State health officials in Arizona are finally accepting applications to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, after months of delays due to rule-making and litigation—including an unsuccessful bid by Gov. Jan Brewer to block the program in the courts. The voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act calls for the state to establish a Medical Marijuana Program, with up to 126 dispensaries. Several requirements that caused concern for potential applicants have been removed; most notably, a prior bankruptcy was eliminated as a disqualifying factor.
However, applicants still face certain restrictions. "There’s a $5,000 application fee that need to be submitted with the application," said Harmony Duport of the Arizona Department of Health Services. "They’re also required to submit business plans and bylaws, attestations, documentation from the local jurisdiction stating that the proposed dispensary address is in an area where there’s no zoning restrictions that would prevent them from applying or operation a dispensary at that location." (Arizona Public Media, May 14)
On May 15, the first round of dispensary applications was held, with 15 being filed at the DHS. Under Arizona law, the stores will be able to grow and sell cannabis legally for a growing number of qualified patients, now topping 28,000. After the close of the application process, DHS will evaluate the submissions and make approvals or denials. Some dispensaries are expected to open by late summer. (Phoenix New Times, May 15)
Later this month, DHS will hold hearings on whether patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), migraines, depression, and general anxiety disorder should be included in the Medical Marijuana Program. (High Times, May 11)
The program continues to meet with opposition from Gov. Brewer who last month signed a law banning medical marijuana from public university and college campuses. The law also bans medical cannabis from all public-school campuses and child-care facilities. (Arizona Republic, April 3)
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