After 18 months of waiting, today is finally the day for Arizona medical marijuana. Despite countless lawsuits, sporadic raids, and hurdles thrown up by Governor Jan Brewer, the Arizona Department of Health (ADHS) today accepted the first 14 applications to operate lawful medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona.
It’s a great moment for patients, activists, and entrepreneurs alike. Arizona finally has the chance to prove that its tightly regulated dispensary system will stand up to federal muster.
The medical marijuana movement is at a tipping point in all corners of the country. Connecticut’s legislature passed a medical marijuana law that awaits a willing governor’s signature. Dispensaries are coming on line in D.C. and New Jersey. President Obama is on the campaign trail, making good on promises, such as supporting gay marriage, which may foreshadow a presidential change of heart on medical marijuana soon. Arizona’s timing couldn’t be better.
I applaud ADHS, Director Will Humble, and the entire Arizona medical marijuana community for maintaining poise, and intellectual generosity throughout this long process. I have said it before, but it’s worth saying again: no matter how you feel about the Arizona medical marijuana program, it is the product of spirited democratic deliberation. Special thanks is owed to Judge Richard Gama, who ordered ADHS to move forward with licensing dispensaries, and the medical marijuana activists in Arizona who pushed the point.
The application period will remain open through May 25, at 5 p.m. ADHS anticipates issuing the first licenses on August 7th. Successful applicants must then build out the dispensaries, and pass a final inspection by ADHS. There are currently more than 28,000 legal medical marijuana patients in Arizona. A number which will likely soar once dispensaries open across the state. In Arizona, patients will be allowed to buy marijuana at any dispensary, and while caregivers are allowed, they are not required.
In order to buy marijuana from a dispensary, patients must get a medical card from ADHS. But first, patients must get certified by an Arizona licensed physician.