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Law Arizona


I won't go into a description, but will discuss the facts as I know them for the benefit of anyone who has specific questions.
Arizona is a conservative state.
Here are all the details about Medical Marijuana and Arizona:
4th of July Pool Party for Arizona Medical Marijuana Patients
Dan Kingston 17 days ago Arizona Marijuana News


Flourish Cannabis, an Arizona edibles maker, has partnered with Sun Valley MMJ Certification Centers to host the Joint Lifestyle 4th of July Cannabis Independence Celebration, a party for Arizona’s medical marijuana industry.

The party will be at the Clarendon Hotel in central Phoenix. Attendees can hang poolside, listen to music, consume medical marijuana products (must have a valid medical marijuana card), enjoy the dab stations, enter to win giveaways, and watch fireworks from the rooftop bar.

Dustin Klein of SVMMJCC told AZmarijuana.com, “The event will be a celebration of cannabis independence and bring together Arizona’s medical marijuana patients and industry workers.”

It is only $10 for a general admission poolside tickets and $50 for VIP rooftop tickets. The Clarendon Hotel will be providing discounted rooms for the event that start at just $150 with the coupon code “FLRSVM.”

Attendees must be 21 years of age or older and have a valid medical marijuana card or Dispensary Agent card to attend the event.

Tickets and more information can be obtained at Joinlifestyleaz.com.
Arizona Marijuana: Everything to Know About Marijuana Law in AZ
Brandi Atkins, an Arizona resident and former dancer, was diagnosed in late 2015 with a rare autoimmune disease that made her joints and muscles swell, causing chronic pain. She popped in and out of the hospital with a cornucopia of prescription medications handed out to alleviate her pain, ease her symptoms, and navigate around her type 1 diabetes. These medications would often clash with her disease and cause her blood sugar to soar. In desperation, she turned to medical marijuana.

Almost immediately, Adkins noticed an improvement in balance, palatable reduction in pain, and (most importantly) hope for her future. The dispensary she visited took the time to understand her specific concerns, her goals, and the particulars of her health conditions. Thanks to medical marijuana, Adkins feels like she can dance again.

This hopeful scenario plays out in dispensaries across Arizona, where more than 100,000 patients suffering everything from epilepsy to chronic pain find relief through medical marijuana.

It’s an interesting situation: legalized medical marijuana and dispensaries in one of the United States’ most conservative territories. How do these conflicting events coexist? Have you ever wondered what exactly is the state of medical marijuana affairs in Arizona? Here’s our in-depth explanation of everything you always wanted to know about Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Laws (but were too afraid to ask).

The road to marijuana legalization in Arizona
When the federal government originally passed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the predecessor to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, all American states had criminalized cannabis in one way or another. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Arizona state legislators began listening to decades-long calls for marijuana law reform.

In 1996, Arizona passed Proposition 200, allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana (specifically, controlled substances) to treat diseases or relieve pain in seriously/terminally ill patients. In order for a patient to use medical marijuana, a doctor had to provide scientific evidence to prove marijuana’s usefulness along with a second doctor’s opinion to the Arizona Department of Health Services. This caused conflict between supporters and opponents of medical marijuana, and started a lengthy battle over the law’s lack of specificity in addition to the language “prescribe.” For a doctor to prescribe medicine, the substance must first undergo FDA trials and doctors must specify the exact dosage and consumption methods to be used. Unfortunately, this rendered Prop 200 illegal on a federal scope and a medical marijuana program never materialized. It did, however, protect first-time drug offenders from prison sentences, which was a step towards decriminalization.

Arizona tried once more to legalize medical marijuana in 2002 with Proposition 203, but the initiative failed, receiving 42.7% of the vote. A viable solution was not presented and approved until nearly a decade later.

In 2010, Arizonans voted to approve a much-revised version of Proposition 203, an initiative to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Proposition 203 authorized doctors to recommend cannabis as a therapeutic option, as opposed to prescribing a specific dosage of cannabis with strict consumption or application methods. This law also tasked the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to regulate the “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”

Arizona’s current marijuana policy
The ADHS had until April 2012 to establish a registration application system for patients and nonprofit marijuana dispensaries, as well as a web-based verification platform for use by law officials and dispensaries to verify a patient’s status as such. It also specified patients’ rights, qualifying medical conditions, and allowed out-of-state medical marijuana patients to maintain their patient status (though not to purchase cannabis).

On December 6, 2012, Arizona’s first licensed medical marijuana dispensary opened in Glendale.

In 2012, Arizona legislators amended the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act to include college and university campuses in their non-consumption list, even if the cardholder was over 21 years old. However, in April 2017, this ruling was overturned by the Arizona Court of Appeals, and though colleges can privately prohibit medical marijuana on campus, lawmakers cannot make campus cannabis use illegal.

The people of Arizona took advantage of the Department of Health’s qualifying condition appeal process in 2013 when they petitioned to include PTSD, migraines, and depression among the list of qualifying medical conditions. Following due process, the Director of the ADHS denied the petition.


While it seemed like the Arizona population was becoming more tolerant of cannabis, it proved too soon to jump to recreational legalization. In 2016, Arizonans narrowly voted no on Prop 205 by a margin of 48:52, which would have legalized the adult use of marijuana. Ballotpedia attributes this loss to heavy early campaigning by opponents of recreational marijuana years before the election process. Opponents such as Insys, the creators of Fentanyl, lobbied heavily against recreational cannabis — their CBD medicine passed the first phases of FDA trials earlier in 2016. This loss resulted in a significant surge in new medical marijuana patients, many of whom were waiting to get their card only if the recreational law failed to pass.

Despite various lawmakers’ attempts to place limitations on Arizona’s medical marijuana law, the program is growing larger each year. As of late June 2017, there were 132,487 Arizona marijuana patients, 155 dispensary licenses (up from 124 at the law’s passage), and 881 patient caregivers.

The “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act”
The “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act,” or AMMA, empowers Arizona doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a viable treatment option for Arizona patients diagnosed with at least one qualifying medical condition. With this recommendation, a patient may apply for an Arizona Medical Marijuana Card, a card that allows patients to possess, purchase, and use medical marijuana.


Arizona marijuana patients or caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at any given time, and obtain 2.5 ounces in a 14-day period from an Arizona medical marijuana dispensary. Patients can also be authorized to grow up to 12 marijuana plants for their own use, or otherwise, find a caregiver to grow cannabis for them if they reside more than 25 miles from the nearest medical marijuana dispensary.

Living as a medical marijuana patient

For Arizonans like Brandi Atkins — mentioned at the beginning of this article — who think medical marijuana might be right for them, patients must receive a recommendation to use medical marijuana from a licensed Arizona physician. The patient must have one of the below qualifying medical conditions, and their physician must determine that the patient indeed has a qualifying condition. The written certification would state the doctor believes, in their professional opinion, the patient would likely receive therapeutic benefit from medical marijuana use.

Arizona’s list of debilitating qualifying conditions

Once a patient has received their written certification from an Arizona doctor, they may apply to the ADHS for a Registry Identification Card, a card that grants patients and caregivers the authority to possess, purchase, and use medical marijuana legally.

To apply for a Registry Identification Card, patients must submit their written certification, the application fee, their personal information, and a statement declaring they won’t use their medical marijuana for nefarious purposes (i.e. sell it to kids). If a minor wants to be a medical marijuana patient, there are stricter rules to follow before they can qualify for their card. The ADHS website explains the application process in more detail.

The most “caring” of the bunch
Some patients in critical need of cannabis are unable to travel easily to purchase or even consume cannabis without some assistance. Arizona included regulations to cover the people who would take care of these patients, known as Caregivers, allowing them to assist patients (up to five) in the medical use of marijuana.

Whether taking care of a child or an elderly parent, this endeavor is a huge responsibility. Caregivers need to educate themselves on the different aspects of marijuana, like different strains, consumption methods, and their patients’ specific health needs. Arizona caregivers must follow all the same regulations as patients, including registering with the ADHS and carrying an ID card.

Don’t worry, the law protects you!
As federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug (without medicinal value), Prop 203 and other medical cannabis laws were designed to protect citizens’ rights. Arizona medical marijuana patients are supposed to be treated like every other resident. The AMMA’s regulations protect the rights of patients and caregivers in certain circumstances:

  • A school or landlord may not refuse to enroll/lease to a qualifying patient unless failing to do so would incur ramifications under federal law.
  • Medical facilities cannot deny treatment to patients based on their status as a medical marijuana user.
  • Parental rights cannot be denied based on a parent’s status as an Arizona medical marijuana patient.
While these protections are essential, they do not provide for every eventuality. Employers may not discriminate against employees who are medical marijuana patients, and may not penalize them for a positive drug test. However, employees cannot use or possess marijuana during the hours of work. Employers may lawfully discipline and even terminate any employee who tests positive for marijuana if they used or possessed during work hours, even if the employee is a registered patient.

Despite nearly 20 years of progress toward decriminalization and regulation, Arizona is still one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to marijuana. Even minor possession is a felony for those who aren’t medical marijuana patients, with a max sentence of 3.75 years and a $150,000 fine.

I’m a physician, what part do I play in medical marijuana?
“I have found in my study of these patients that Cannabis is really a safe, effective and non-toxic alternative to many standard medications.” -Philip Denney, MD, Testimony to the Arkansas legislature in support of House Bill 1303, “An Act to Permit the Medical Use of Marijuana,” Nov. 17, 2005.

Doctors are the gatekeepers to medical marijuana. In all medically legal states, doctors must fully evaluate their patients and determine whether cannabis is a fit for their medical needs and whether they have a qualifying condition. This places a lot of responsibility on doctors’ shoulders, which most Arizona doctors bear with professionalism and true concern for their patients. The physician must be a doctor of medicine, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, a naturopathic physician, or a homeopathic physician who holds a valid license to practice in Arizona.

Physicians meet patients, either in person or via telemedicine services, to determine if the patient has a qualifying condition before signing a written certification stating that, in their professional opinion, the patient has a qualifying condition and would likely receive therapeutic benefits from medical marijuana use.

However, Arizona courts have cracked down on some physicians who have turned their practices into “certification mills” due to their being no additional requirements for marijuana recommendations other than holding a valid license to practice medicine in Arizona.

Visiting from out of state?
Arizona allows non-Arizona medical marijuana patients the same rights and protections as Arizona citizens. This caveat makes sense … sort of.

The law states a Registry Identification Card, or its equivalent, issued by another state is valid in Arizona, except in that a visiting qualifying patient may not obtain marijuana from an Arizona marijuana dispensary.

This is a bit paradoxical. How is an out-of-state patient to access medical marijuana without purchasing from a dispensary or bringing it over state lines, which is federally illegal? Here’s how:

Another registered Arizona patient or designated caregiver can offer and provide medical marijuana so long as nothing of value is given in return, and the recipient doesn’t end up possessing more than 2.5 oz. of marijuana. This works, though it may be simpler to become a resident of Arizona.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary basics, keeping patients safe, obeying laws

All Arizona marijuana dispensaries are nonprofit organizations, a philosophy similar to out-of-state patients: “nothing of value may be exchanged for the transfer of medical marijuana.” While medical marijuana isn’t free, dispensaries may charge for medical marijuana as part of the expenses incurred during business operations. Patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, either as flower or an equivalent amount in concentrate, edibles, or other cannabis product forms.

As marijuana is still federally illegal (and valuable), security remains a top priority. Dispensaries are required to use the ADHS online verification system to confirm each Arizona marijuana patient’s status as a patient and the amount of marijuana purchased over the last 60 days. This system is password protected and will not allow any access through an unencrypted internet connection. This online system does not include patients’ addresses or other personal information.

Dispensaries are also required to have a strong security system for their facility, including a single secure entrance. Medicating on the premises is forbidden. These heavy requirements go hand-in-hand with Arizona officials’ concern that marijuana products will encourage theft, violence, or negligent/illegal use.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the future
Though Arizona’s medical marijuana laws are full of sticky, complicated red tape, the program’s existence is still a huge step forward in the crusade for national legalization. Suffering patients in Arizona can find medical relief with our favorite plant and still enjoy protection from the law. Hopefully, after reading our guide, you now understand the nuts and bolts of how medical marijuana regulations work in Arizona.

Still want more information? Check out the Arizona Department of Health Services website at www.azdhs.gov.
Fucking politicians again screwing the electorate. I think we would really be so better off if we shipped our entire professional political class to another country....perhaps Russia or China where they don't have to worry about small details like democracy or the expressed will of the voters.

Court asked to rule Arizona's fee since medical marijuana permit is too high

An attorney is asking the Court of Appeals to force health officials to slash what they charge medical marijuana users for the state-issued permit needed to buy the drug.

The $150 that patients must pay annually is illegally high, attorney Sean Berberian said Monday. He said it is far more than the Arizona Department of Health Services needs to administer the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which allows people with certain medical conditions to use the drug. The 2010 voter-approved law makes it clear the agency cannot simply bank the proceeds, he said.

Berberian said this is more than an administrative bottleneck. He said evidence suggests that both Gov. Doug Ducey and predecessor Jan Brewer directed the agency to keep the fees as high as possible to deter patients from getting the drug. Ducey’s office denied that claim Monday.

“There have been no efforts from this office to direct ADHS’s operation of this program,” gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak said Monday. He said the fees are simply what they were when Ducey took office in January 2015.

The new legal filing comes six months after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry rejected similar arguments. She did not dispute the allegations that the state is collecting far more than it needs. But Gentry said it’s not up to her to force the state to lower its costs.

Berberian said he hopes to prove to the Court of Appeals that her ruling is not legally sound.

The numbers do not appear to be in doubt.

The health department collected $24.9 million in fees from patients, caregivers, dispensary owners and growers in the last fiscal year. The program’s expenses in that period were $11.2 million.

So far this budget year the data show revenues of $6 million against $2.8 million in expenses.

And as of Monday, health officials said the balance in the account is nearly $38.1 million, more than three times as much as needed to administer the program on an annual basis.

The 2010 law allows medical marijuana patients to purchase up to 2½ ounces of the drug every two weeks from state-regulated dispensaries.

But sales can be made only to those with a state-issued medical marijuana ID card, the one that costs $150 and must be renewed annually.

Berberian said the fee is a significant hardship for the people he represents.

Lisa Becker, one of his clients, has suffered for years from a series of ailments. Berberian said doctors gave her four anti-nausea drugs and opiates to manage her pain. Medical marijuana has calmed her nausea, allowing her to eat solid food without vomiting. But he said that Becker, living on $1,100 a month, has had to either borrow money to pay the $150 annual fee or spend less on medications.

The other plaintiff is Yolanda Daniels, who is caregiver for her granddaughter who has epilepsy. According to Berberian, medical marijuana has reduced the child’s seizures. But to get the drug for her, Daniels has to pay $350 a year — $150 for her granddaughter’s card and another $200 to be a state-licensed caregiver.

The voter-approved law says the total amount of all fees “shall generate revenues sufficient to implement and administer” the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

“Instead, what the Department of Health Services has done is set a fee structure and refused to reexamine or revisit that fee structure when it’s quite obvious that the fees that they set are far beyond what is sufficient to implement and administer that chapter,” Berberian said.

He is not alone in reaching that conclusion.

Will Humble, who was health director when the 2010 measure was approved, told Capitol Media Services he set the $150 fee based on anticipated start-up costs and an assumption that only about 25,000 people would qualify.

As it turned out, that estimate was far too low. The latest report shows more than 143,000 people are currently certified by the state to use the drug.

Humble said he was working on a plan to slash the fee when he quit in early 2015 shortly after Ducey’s election.

There has been no apparent movement on the issue by health director Cara Christ, his successor, since.

State health officials did not respond to inquiries about the decision to leave the fees where they are in the face of an increasing fund balance.

Berberian has his own theory.

“This is part and parcel of the state’s ongoing effort to try to limit Arizonans from getting access to legal medical marijuana,” he said. “At every turn, the state and our governor has tried to prevent Arizonans from getting access.”

Brewer, who was governor when voters approved the law, did try to stop Humble from licensing any dispensaries — effectively making marijuana unavailable to patients — on the premise the state could not permit the sale of a drug that remains illegal under federal law. That argument was rejected by a state judge.

In the lower court ruling in this case, Gentry rejected Berberian’s contention that the requirement to set fees “sufficient” to administer the program precludes the state from charging more. She said the law does not specifically prohibit the health department from taking in more than needed.

Gentry said Berberian wants her to reset the fees at a more reasonable level. But the judge said that is a political question beyond the reach of the courts.

“The only way the court could determine what fee meets the sufficient requirements of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and the Constitution would be to take over the administration of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act from the Department of Health Services,” Gentry wrote.

She said that would force the court to set policy decisions on things like staff salaries, operating expenses, enforcement actions and litigation defense, all of which the 2010 law puts in the purview of the health department.
Just another shithead politician trying to forcefully impose his personal view on the electorate who pays his wage. Maricopa Co....get rid of this asshat and make him earn an honest living doing something else.

'Medical Marijuana Is Safe in Arizona,' ACLU Declares as Bill Montgomery's Crusade Finally Ends

Maricopa County Bill Montgomery was one of the most vocal opponents of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in 2010, and fought hard to kill it after voters made it the law of the land.

This week, his years-long crusade to overturn the law ended with a whimper.

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Montgomery once considered taking the case of White Mountain Health Center v. Maricopa County to the U.S. Supreme Court, if need be. But he let the chance slip by, missing the December 11 deadline to seek review by the nation's High Court.

"From the beginning, Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery was clear about his intentions with this case — he wanted to shut down medical marijuana in Arizona and throughout the country," said Emma Andersson, the lead attorney on the case for the American Civil Liberties Union's Criminal Law Reform Project from her office in New York City. "He failed ... Today, finally, medical marijuana is safe in Arizona."

Montgomery didn't return a message seeking comment.

The case between the county and a Sun City dispensary began in 2011, and the ACLU joined local lawyers in medical marijuana's defense the following year.

The county's elected top prosecutor told Phoenix New Times in 2012 that he hopes the case was the "dam" that blocked up the medical-marijuana program. He's been met with defeat time after time in the case, as New Times has covered.

It started six years ago when the anti-cannabis warrior advised the five members of the county Board of Supervisors to "opt out" of the voter-approved program, claiming it violated federal law. They took his bad legal advice, and the county was promptly sued in June 2011 by White Mountain Health Center Inc., which wanted zoning approval to open a dispensary in Sun City.

Yet the case was actually a trap set by Montgomery. Marijuana activist and bong-tool inventor Daryl "Butch" Williams had been granted the license only for that general location — it was either sue or perish. Montgomery eagerly began using the litigation to build his case against the state law itself.

He was soon joined by then-state Attorney General Tom Horne, who had already tried and failed once to overturn the law in federal court. The pair put out a gleeful news release in August 2012 announcing their latest filings in the case, which sought a state court opinion to "resolve conflicting issues" on whether or not the medical-marijuana law was pre-empted by federal law.


Emma Andersson, staff attorney with the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project.
Dispensary company operators watched the case closely. In many cases, they had their shops ready to go, but couldn't start serving the growing population of card-holding patients with the question still unsettled as to whether cannabis could be legally sold in the state.

Then, on December 4, 2012, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon ruled that the medical-marijuana act didn't violate the law, and the state dispensary industry took off. Two years later, White Mountain became the 84th dispensary to open in the state.

Montgomery and Horne kept up their fight for federal rights after Gordon's decision. In a later decision on the case, Gordon called the county's actions against White Mountain a "transparent attempt" to stymie the law.

Despite years of failure, Montgomery took up a fresh attempt at an appeal in the case earlier this year. But the current state Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, decided that the state would not longer be a part of it.

Undeterred, Montgomery tried to make a final stand in state courts — and was turned down in September by the Arizona Supreme Court. That forced him to decide whether he wanted to chance it at the U.S. Supreme Court.

He apparently decided that six years and an estimated $1 million bill for taxpayers was enough.

Andersson, who's worked on the case from the beginning, described how the issue of states' rights allowed the case to prevail for the dispensary — and for Arizona voters — at every step of the legal game.

Ultimately, it all starts with the framers of the U.S. Constitution, she said.

"The framers thought we would have greater freedom and greater liberty as individuals if there were two sets of sovereigns, essentially — the state and federal government," Andersson said. "Part of that structure of our government is that the federal government can't force states to enforce federal policy. This is our Tenth Amendment argument — it's a states' rights issue. The federal government can prohibit marijuana all it wants. But given the current law, the federal Controlled Substances Act, which specifically carves out space for the states to have different types of drug policy, the feds can't force the states to enforce federal law.

"The voters of Arizona decided they didn't want to take the same path as full federal prohibition — they wanted to take a different path," she continued. "And the state is allowed to do that."

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As of November, about 152,000 Arizonans had medical-marijuana cards, and they're being served by about 130 dispensaries that sell all types of cannabis products, even while federal law prohibits the possession or sale of marijuana.

The power of voters and states' rights is in full display in Arizona.

Maybe Montgomery finally sees it.
This is some fucked up shit here.

AZ Bill: Publish Wrong Medical-Marijuna Dispensary Address and You Could Be a Felon

Publish an incorrect dispensary address, and you could go to jail.

You heard right: Under a proposed law, any local group or company who publishes an incorrect address for a dispensary would be guilty of a felony, and subject to a mandatory $10,000 for each violation.

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That's just one of several new ideas by a trio of prohibitionist Arizona lawmakers who want to tamper with the state's medical-marijuana program and prevent an adult-use measure from ever making the ballot.

"In Arizona, this is the only small business that is being regulated to basically choke it out," said Taylor Swick, a lawyer with AMMA PAC, a registered lobbying group for patients and dispensaries in Arizona.


Taylor Swick, attorney
That being said, Swick acknowledged that conservative lawmakers have been stymied for years in trying to roll back the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), which voters approved in 2010.

The Voter Protection Act, which voters put in place in 1998 after lawmakers gutted an earlier drug-reform measure, prevents legislators from altering a voter-approved bill without a three-fourths majority,

and even then the change must further the original bill's purpose.

Still, anti-cannabis lawmakers put pressure on the industry that may inhibit investments and leave patients on edge, even if their tactics are unsuccessful, Swick said.

Whether there will be more attempts to gut the law this session, which runs through May, it's too early to say.

Here's a roundup of the anti-cannabis legislation so far that could change the lives of 160,000 Arizona patients, plus a look at the Hail Mary longshots by Democrats to bring actual improvements for patients and the medical-marijuana industry:

SB 1060 "Jail the Publishers"
Introduced by: David Farnsworth, R-Mesa

Under Farnsworth's bill, a "listing or menu service" with two or more employees that wants to publish information about a dispensary or its product lines would have to first verify the business has an operating certificate on file with the state.

Never mind that the state, or in this case the Arizona Department of Health Services, can't legally confirm the information that a dispensary might give to a publisher. The 2010 medical-marijuana law contains privacy provisions that prevent the DHS from giving out even the name of a dispensary to anyone but valid medical-marijuana cardholders or dispensary agents.


Arizona State Senator David Farnsworth
Arizona Legislature
The bill bans the publication of a dispensary address "that is different than the address" on the state certificate. Violators would be guilty of a felony and fined $10,000 for each violation.

Farnsworth's bill says nothing about any exemption for typos.

Farnsworth didn't return a message on Monday.

Attorney Dan Barr of the First Amendment Coalition said the reason for the bill is unclear, since it would be in the dispensary's best interest to have the correct address printed.

"You're going to throw someone in prison for this?" Barr said.

"I am disgusted at Senator Farnsworth's attempt to control the press in Arizona," Dan Kingston of AzMarijuana.com said when contacted for a comment. The bill's passage "would greatly hinder Arizonans access to information about the Arizona medical marijuana industry, such as dispensary locations and products."

Phoenix New Times also has dispensary listings, and could be affected.

HCR 2008 "Federal Deification Act"
Introduced by: Vince Leach, R-Saddlebrooke

House Concurrent Resolutions are meant to make a point. Leach's HCR 2008 aims to begin discussions at the Legislature on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would cede Arizona's initiative system to the feds, vis-a-vi the state Attorney General's Office.

At anytime before the Secretary of State's Office certifies an initiative for the ballot, the state Attorney General must review the initiative and decide if it conflicts with, or is pre-empted by, federal law. If he or she decides federal law somehow trumps the proposed ballot measure, that's it — the ballot measure's gone.

Leach can't envision a time when a Democrat-controlled Congress and state AG's office are taking his rights away. But such an amendment could solve in the short term what Republicans see as the problem of voters passing an adult-use marijuana-legalization measure like the ones in states that surround Arizona.

HB 2067 "Jail the Doctors"
Introduced by: Vince Leach

If a doctor cheats and gives someone a medical-marijuana card who isn't really eligible, the doctor could have his or her license revoked by a medical board. Leach wants these naughty doctors also to be prosecuted for a felony.

HB 2068 "Pain for Parolees"
Introduced by: Vince Leach

New Times covered this one in a recent article. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that medicinal marijuana can't be taken away from people just because they happen to be on probation or parole. Leach's bill would put that decision back in the hands of prosecutors, who aren't likely to help parolees and probationers obtain cannabis to help what ails them.

HB 2064 "Gummy Bears Cause Scares"
Introduced by Vince Leach

This bill would not allow dispensaries to "acquire, possess, manufacture or sell a marijuana product that is packaged or labeled in a manner that is attractive to minors."

Attractiveness to minors is defined as anything with a cartoon, a "design, brand or name" that resembles a non-cannabis product that might be marketed to minors, any symbol or celebrity image commonly used to market to minors, an image of minors, or "words that refer to products that are commonly associated with minors or marketed to minors."

The bill doesn't spell out penalties for violators, but dispensaries deemed out of compliance with the medical-marijuana program, in general, could lose their license.

Last year, Colorado banned cannabis products that look like candy. While it's true that no one wants to see kids rushed to the hospital because of an accidental cannabis ingestion, it's also true that Leach's intent seems to be more harassment of patients and the industry than trying to improve the 2010 law.

HB 2066 "Raid the Fund"
Introduced by: Vince Leach

Arizona medical-marijuana patients pay $150 to the state each year for their cards, which allow them to buy up to 2.5 ounces of products every two weeks at state dispensaries. Registered caregivers, dispensary agents, and dispensaries, also pay fees ranging up to $5,000 for an initial dispensary registration. The money has been collected in a fund but used rarely since it began amassing in 2011. It now totals more than $40 million.

Leach wants the director of the state DHS to be able to use the money for "enforcement" of the medical-marijuana law and "education, awareness and prevention messaging."

SB 1061 "Raid the Fund, and More"
Introduced by: David Farnsworth

Senator Farnsworth wants to extract $5 million from the medical-marijuana fund and spent it on general drug-trafficking enforcement this year and next.

His bill also directs the DHS to reformulate its rules to "address" dispensaries that move from their original, state-mandated regional locations and "labeling and testing of edible medical marijuana products." He doesn't say how these things should be addressed, however. DHS would be free to address and modify registration and renewal fees for dispensaries and dispensary agents, too.

HB 2398 "The Contact High Bill"
Introduced by: Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff

Thorpe's bill takes money from the state's tobacco fund and puts it toward substance-abuse education, with an emphasis on marijuana.


Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff
He'd require teachers or groups like the well-connected notMYkid to give public-school students from fifth to 12th grade two hours of anti-drug and alcohol education. Interestingly, the bill requires the teaching of the "negative effects" of "using tobacco, marijuana and illegal drugs," but only of "abusing alcohol." Did the alcohol lobby reach Thorpe for that verbiage tweak?

The bill would make the DHS come up with programs that "emphasize the possible dangers of secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke, emergency health issues for persons or animals caused by ingesting food containing marijuana and potential negative impacts to cognitive development caused by the use of tobacco and marijuana."

What are the dangers of secondhand marijuana smoke? The National Institute on Drug Abuse states on its website that it may be possible to get a "contact high," but that "very little research on this question has been conducted."

Thorpe rounds out his bill with an order to DHS to make dispensaries put signs up, and for doctors to warn patients about these "possible dangers" of marijuana.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers have put several of their own bills on tap this year to deal with cannabis-related issues:

HB 2144 "Our Vote, Our Law"
Introduced by: Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix

Sort of a local version of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, Cardenas' bill would prohibit state and local police from assisting federal authorities in clamping down on the state's medical-marijuana program or its patients.

HB 2014 "Almost Legalization"
Introduced by: Mark Cardenas

You can always count on Cardenas to introduce a bill to either legalize or decriminalize marijuana. Just don't count on the bills to pass.


Arizona state Representative Mark Cardenas.
Ray Stern
HB 2100 "Let It Be"
Introduced by: Several Democratic lawmakers

Arizona medical-marijuana patients have to renew their cards every year. This bill would extend that to every five years.

If they wanted to be really generous, though, they could make the expiration for a medical-marijuana card the same as for a driver's license: When the person turns 65.

HB 2199 "Be Nice to Patients"
Introduced by: Several Democratic lawmakers

Lowers the yearly card fee for patients from $150 to $50.

HB 2147 "Be Even Nicer to Patients"
Introduced by: Mark Cardenas

Not to be outdone by his colleagues, the cannabis-friendly Cardenas would lower the yearly patient card fee to $15.

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SB 1098 "Hemp, Hemp, Hooray"
Introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators

This bill would legalize an industrial hemp industry in Arizona, guided by federal law. As New Times reported in November, hemp is a major source of over-the-counter cannabidiol (CBD) sold online and by local smoke shops. It's also used to make a large range of products.

Demetri Downing, executive director of the Marijuana Trade Industry Association, said he'd like to see Arizona's conservative lawmakers open up more of their Libertarian tendencies and help the industry, rather than continue to put up obstacles. Downing said he worked with Cardenas on the anti-federal-assistance bill and wished he could do the same with Republicans.

"It's ironic that you have a Democrat protecting states' rights and the will of Arizona voters, and you have Republicans doing the opposite," Downing said
You mean that they have not and currently do not test!! Wow.

Arizona May Finally Begin Lab Testing Medical Cannabis for Contaminants

More than seven years after Arizona legalized medical cannabis, the state may finally begin to require lab testing to identify mold, pesticides, and other potentially harmful contaminants.

Under a proposal from state Sen. Sonny Borelli (R-Lake Havasu), the state would require testing starting in 2019. The bill would mandate that products be analyzed for mold and other chemicals and that product labels disclose all compounds used during production.

“This is supposed to be medicine,” Borelli told a local CBS affiliate. “The patient has the right to know what’s in their medicine.”

Pesticides 101: Questions and Answers for Cannabis Patients and Consumers

The measure, Senate Bill 1420, has earned broad backing from lawmakers, with nearly the entire state Legislature having signed on in support. It now has 78 co-sponsors, including Republican and Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate. There are 90 members of the Legislature.

The bill would also reduce the state’s $150 patient-registration fee to $50.
Borelli said the bill would also require accurate labeling of THC content. “If they’re going to advertise 20% THC and it gets tested at 5%, they need to re-label,” he told CBS. The text of Borelli’s bill, however, makes no specific mention of potency, THC, or other cannabinoids. Nor does it set specific limits on contaminants aside from the requirement that a sample “does not include mold.”

To pay for the testing, the state would appropriate $2 million from its medical marijuana fund surplus, which currently has a balance of $35 million. The money would go to the Department of Agriculture, which could then conduct testing itself or contract the testing out to a qualified third-party lab.

The bill would also reduce the state’s $150 patient-registration fee to $50, with renewals priced at $25. Borelli said the higher fee could no longer be justified in light of the fund surplus.
While I don't support "MJ Recommendation Mills"....they look a lot like some of the "methadone for $$" docs in the 70's, this does not seem like the way to go and the last thing I want is some politician involved in my medical situation. While abuse of the system surely takes place, I believe this to be less intrusive on personal freedoms and less of a risk to our individual liberties than involving the political structure in medical decisions in any manner whatsoever.

Lawmakers Want To Charge Doctors Who Prescribe Cannabis With A Felony
A group of Arizona lawmakers are looking to crack down on doctors recommending medical marijuana.

State legislators in Arizona are looking to crack down on pre-existing medical marijuana laws with a bold, albeit harsh, set of regulations. In order to further regulate the plant amongst its medical patients, lawmakers want to charge doctors who prescribe cannabis with a felony.

A Harsh Punishment
On Thursday, Arizona’s House Health Committee voted 6-3 for HB 2067, a bill that would take aim at doctors that fail to conduct a full medical exam before recommending cannabis to their patients. Doctors could face up to a year in prison if they neglect to do their due diligence. Additionally, a similar penalty would occur for doctors that do not review at least a year of medical records prior to allowing a patient to consume medicinal cannabis.

The proposed bill comes on the heels of comments by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who has panned the influx of “pot docs,” or in other words, doctors that attempt to make as much money as possible by handing out medical cards to patients.

“I hear a lot from the parents who are very frustrated because their son has turned 18,” Polk told lawmakers. “They visited what we call the ‘pot docs,’ and 30 minutes later they walk out with that recommendation.”

Polk said the practice is essentially a law loophole for people to legally obtain marijuana.

“This is a de facto recreational marijuana program,” Polk says of the 2010 law.

Polk argues that the bulk of patients receiving medical marijuana are for less-than-serious conditions. She says stats show that 3 percent of patients got the certification for cancer and fewer than 2 percent got it for PTSD, while close to 85 percent of the patients receive a recommendation for chronic pain, a loosely categorized affliction. Furthermore, most of the men reporting chronic pain, she says, are between ages 18-30; an age she considers relatively young to be experiencing such physical issues.

The attorney also pointed to billboards that advertise the availability of medical marijuana cards for people without medical records, something that is not in conjuncture with the current landscape of the rules.

Final Hit: Lawmakers Want To Charge Doctors Who Prescribe Cannabis With A Felony
Following the vote from the House Health Committee, all Polk needs is the approval of the full House in order to see her bill come to fruition.

Unsurprisingly, however, not everyone is enthralled with the bill.

For example, Rep. Pamela Powers Hanley, D-Tucson panned Polk’s notion that men ages 18-30 wouldn’t be victims of chronic pain. She cited similar numbers for opioid users as further evidence.

” I don’t think you should discount the idea that because a man is young that he does not have chronic pain,” she said.

Additionally, Powers Hanley believes the attempt by Polk is simply overkill. As it stands, Arizona has regulations in place that require doctors to follow state laws and regulations. If a doctor is found to be neglecting the rules for recommending medical marijuana, medical boards can revoke their licenses. However, Polk feels as if doctors that do such should be treated as criminals, something that clearly has met the ire of fellow lawmakers,

“I see this bill as an attempt to overregulate a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries safely,” Powers Hanley said.

Arizona: New Poll Shows Elevated Support for Legalization In 2018

A new poll asked whether or not Arizona’s voters “would support or oppose a proposal that Arizona regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol?” An overwhelming majority have responded positively to the idea, as volunteers work to gather the required signatures to place an initiative before the voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The poll, broken down by political affiliation, age, gender, and location, indicates that 62.9 percent of surveyed voters either strongly or somewhat support the regulation and taxation of marijuana, according to OH Predictive Insights and the Consumer Choice Center.

While 24.3 percent of those surveyed noted they opposed the outright legalization of recreational marijuana in the Grand Canyon state, support for regulating and taxing the plant was typically highest in specific subgroups; individuals between 18 and 34 years old (72.5 percent), Democrats (68.9 percent), and Independents (61.7 percent).

Still a partisan issue for many of Arizona’s elected officials, 48.2 percent of those respondents who self-identified as Republicans voiced support for reforming the state’s marijuana law.


Only Republicans and those living in rural areas polled at less than 50 percent

For the poll, the Phoenix-based company queried 189 Republicans, 222 Independents, and 190 Democrats between Feb. 7 and 8. OH Predictive Insights surveyed the 601 registered voters in Arizona via telephone – with 40 percent coming from cell phones.

Given a margin of error of +/- 4 percent, this poll is a potential harbinger of things to come for Arizona residents. In 2016, Arizona’s initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, Prop 205, was defeated by more than 2 percent.
They don't already test MMJ? WTF?

Medical marijuana testing bill passed by AZ Senate, heads to House


The state of Arizona now one step closer to requiring medical marijuana testing, a Senate decision Brandy Williams is thankful for.

“As a mom, I just want to improve the quality of his life," said Williams.

Her 7-year-old son Logan qualified for a medical marijuana card because of his epilepsy, and she said not only did medical cannabis stop his seizures completely but also helped his autism.

[READ MORE: Arizona lawmakers call for medical marijuana testing; end to 'Wild West' mentality]

“He’s getting enough relief to where he can actually learn and thrive in a school environment,” said Williams.

But because medical marijuana is not required to be tested for things like molds, pesticides and E.coli, she’s paying out of pocket to get it tested, because that bacteria could kill Logan due to his neurological deficits.

[RELATED: Lab tests find mold on medical marijuana sold in Phoenix; 'It should be pulled off the shelf']

“I feel like if they’re going to be doing this as a business that they should be held to a certain standard,” said Williams.

And that’s why Arizona state Sen. Sonny Borrelli introduced SB 1440, to require that testing that already exists in other states.

[RELATED: Business owners weigh in on new bill designed to regulate medical marijuana safety]

“We’re really way behind the power curve on this one,” said Borrelli.

Democrats had originally supported a provision in the bill that would’ve lowered patient card costs from the current $150 a year to only $50 a year with a $25 annual renewal, but Borrelli was able to pass the bill in the Senate keeping that $150 cost.

[READ MORE: State lawmaker drops lower medical marijuana fees from bill]

“If it’s mold, it shouldn’t be sold. This is a medicine let’s treat it as such,” said Borrelli.

Now the bill will need to pass by a 3/4 vote in the House to move forward. That vote is expected to happen in a few weeks.
Interesting. Washington, DC's reciprocity is supposed to go into effect in April. We will see as this has been hanging out there for a while.

California Cannabis Recommendation Is Valid in Arizona, Court Rules

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona Court of Appeals ruling says a man’s medical marijuana recommendation letter obtained from a physician under California’s medical marijuana law provides the same legal immunity as registry cards issued by Arizona authorities.

The three-judge panel’s decision Thursday upholds a La Paz County Superior Court judge’s dismissal of drug possession charges stemming from a 2016 traffic stop of Stanley Kemmish Jr.

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Arizona, Spring 2018

Prosecutors argued that the physician’s letter saying Kemmish would benefit from marijuana medical usage wasn’t the equivalent of Arizona’s state-issued cards, but the Court of Appeals said having the letter meant Kemmish was a “visiting qualifying patient” under the Arizona law.

The ruling described Kemmish as a California resident while La Paz County online court records gave an address in Laveen, which is part of metro Phoenix.
Well, as you would expect...cronyism and the fight for a spot at the trough is alive and well in the cannabis industry. What else is new?

Tactics scrutinized in Phoenix medical-marijuana dispensary cases

Zoning battles over medical-marijuana facilities in Phoenix have raised questions about the winning group's tactics in an industry where millions of dollars are at stake.

The controversy also spotlights the Phoenix Board of Adjustment, an obscure volunteer board that decided matters for the city.

In recent months, when individuals from the group represented a medical-marijuana dispensary, the Phoenix Board of Adjustment granted the needed approvals to open.

When the same group opposed medical-marijuana facilities, the board denied approval.

ACCUSATIONS DETAILED: Allegations outlined in marijuana-dispensary cases

The group consists of two former city staffers, a prominent Phoenix attorney and a fourth individual from a politically connected family. Those who agreed to speak with The Arizona Republic said they got involved out of genuine concern for the community.

Attorneys who represented the group's opponents in the cases believe otherwise. They contend members of the group created bogus victims and collected fake signatures for petitions.

Attorneys for Withey Morris, a law firm representing another medical-marijuana dispensary with a case scheduled to go before the board May 11, submitted a memo to the city in late April that detailed the "unusual circumstances" and patterns seen in multiple medical-marijuana appeals.

Citing one case, the memo alleged it "was mysteriously appealed by a sham appellant that is paid for by a Phoenix lobbyist, presumably at the direction of another competitor to chase away competition."

Other zoning attorneys raised similar concerns.

A week after Withey Morris filed its memo with the city, the City Council replaced a majority of the Board of Adjustment's members with little explanation.

The motivations behind the questionable behaviors are unclear.

The attorneys have offered no proof of involvement by a competitor.

The lobbyists and activists in question denied the allegations, saying they were not paid by a marijuana competitor.

Board of Adjustment members, by city rules, cannot answer questions about their decisions in specific cases.

And Mayor Greg Stanton, who recommended the board members be replaced, did not answer a specific question about whether his decision was related to the medical-marijuana allegations.

Twenty-nine states and Washington D.C, have legalized the use of medical marijuana and on top of that, nine states have legalized recreational pot. But the question is, why was it illegal in the first place? Just the FAQs

How marijuana approvals work
Arizona voters legalized medical marijuana in 2010 and the industry has boomed. Medical-marijuana sales increased by nearly 50 percent last year over the prior year, with an estimated value of $387 million — and show no signs of slowing down.

State and local regulations limit how many dispensaries can operate and where, making the medical-marijuana industry one of the most competitive businesses in Arizona, according to zoning attorneys and people familiar with the industry.

When a business wants to open a dispensary or add a cultivation center in Phoenix, it must get a special-use permit from the city.

The business must also secure additional approvals if the proposed location is within a certain distance of another medical-marijuana facility, a school, a church, a community center or a handful of other places.

Representatives of the proposed medical-marijuana facility must state their case at a public hearing in a small room on the ground floor of City Hall. A hearing officer decides whether the request meets the city's standards.

If the hearing officer denies the request, the medical-marijuana dispensary can appeal.

If the request is approved, anyone who opposes the facility can appeal.

Those appeals are sent for a final decision to the Board of Adjustment, composed of volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council members.


Visitors enter Phoenix City Hall through the southwest doors at 200 W. Washington St. (Photo: Mark Henle/The Republic)

Similar appeals, similar people, similar results
Since March, the Board of Adjustment has heard three medical-marijuana facility appeals. It overturned the hearing officer's decision in each case.

Two of those appeals, and one scheduled for May 11, were filed by people claiming to live or own property nearby who were disgruntled with the hearing officer's decision to approve the facilities. All three proposed facilities were in west Phoenix, but miles apart.

The other appeal came from a medical-marijuana business after a hearing officer denied its requests for a dispensary in north-central Phoenix.

A combination of four people kept appearing in these cases: Phoenix lobbyists Joe Villasenor and Layla Ressler, west Phoenix resident Alexia Nunez and zoning attorney Nick Wood.

Villasenor paid for two of the neighborhood-initiated appeals and provided community outreach on the other. He said he paid the $2,760 filing fee for each of the neighbors' appeals out of concern for the community.

A city staffer wrote in an email that Villasenor also submitted the appeal for the dispensary-initiated appeal, but Villasenor denies that.

Ressler paid for one of the neighborhood-initiated appeals on behalf of her uncle, who owns a business near a proposed medical-marijuana facility. She said she also provided pro bono community support for one of the appeals Villasenor paid for.

Nunez gathered petitions for two of the appeals, and her phone number was listed as the primary contact number for the appellant on the two other appeals.

Wood represented all three appellants in the neighborhood-initiated appeals, although Wood later backed out of one of the cases because of a conflict. He did not return requests for comment.

Neighborhood-initiated appeals
According to state law, only a "person aggrieved" can file an appeal. The Board of Adjustment decides who qualifies as a "person aggrieved," but typically the person must live or own property nearby.

All three of the neighbor-initiated appeals contained nearly identical language describing why the facilities should be denied. Two of the three appellants do not appear to live at the addresses they provided on the appeal paperwork, and the appeal forms also included incorrect phone numbers, The Arizona Republic found.

Villasenor said he gave each appellant a copy of sample language to use, and each used it verbatim.

"I mean, that's just the fastest thing to do," he said.

In the three cases that neighbors appealed, lawyers representing the proposed medical-marijuana facilities provided the Board of Adjustment with evidence of what they called fraud, forgery or deceit by the appellants or their representatives. The attorneys questioned the validity of petition signatures and the legitimacy of the appellants.

But the board sided with the appellants in the two appeals that have come before it, overturning the hearing officers' recommendations.

Dispensary-initiated appeal
In the final case, Nunez went to work for a dispensary, defending it against opposition from neighbors.

The proposed dispensary hired Nunez to collect signatures of support. Nearby residents who opposed the dispensary and their attorney alleged to the board that those signatures were fake.

Despite neighborhood opposition and allegations of phony signatures, the Board of Adjustment overturned the hearing officer's decision, clearing the way for the dispensary to open.

According to an email from a city staff member, Villasenor submitted the appeal paperwork on behalf of the dispensary.

Villasenor denies he was involved. He said he just ran into the person who submitted the appeal while he was at City Hall.


Plants in a grow room at a marijuana farm supplying Arizona's medical-marijuana industry. (Photo: David Wallace/The Republic)

The two former staffers: Villasenor, Ressler
Villasenor and Ressler have long histories with the city.

Villasenor was a top aide to former Mayor Phil Gordon until 2010. Ressler was Councilman Michael Nowakowski's chief of staff until 2016. She also served as Councilman Sal DiCiccio's fundraiser during his 2017 campaign.

Villasenor, Ressler and their families are steady donors in city elections. They have donated to the campaigns of nearly all of the current council members.

Villasenor and Ressler were involved in a controversial land deal in 2016 involving Nowakowski and his private-sector employer, which prompted an Attorney General's Office investigation. Prosecutors did not find sufficient evidence to bring charges under the state's conflict-of-interest laws.

In 2017, The Arizona Republic found that Villasenor had not registered as a lobbyist in Phoenix although he was acting as a lobbyist on several development deals, an apparent violation of city lobbying-disclosure rules.

His attorney contended Villasenor did register but the documents were somehow lost or the city clerk didn't properly log them.

Villasenor and Ressler previously were engaged to be married and are still in a relationship, Villasenor said. They each own companies that perform community-outreach services.

The petition gatherer: Nunez
Nunez only recently began attending Phoenix meetings, but her family has a long history in politics. She is the granddaughter of West Valley minister and unsuccessful state Legislature and congressional candidate Eve Nunez.

Nunez has provided different information about herself at three city hearings and meetings since December.

In one hearing, she said she was a chaplain, mentor, caseworker and counselor for an organization run by her family called Hope4Teenz. At another, she said she owned a company called Urban Petitions. Most recently, she appeared before a City Council subcommittee as a "long-term resident of the West Valley" who was opposed to medical marijuana near libraries.

The fake-signature allegations made by opposing attorneys at recent Board of Adjustment meetings are not the first ones Nunez has faced.

In 2009, she was arrested after attempting to cash a check for nearly $1,000, according to court records. When the bank contacted the person who made out the check, the person said she had written the check for $31.66.

Nunez told police a co-worker had altered the check and they had planned to split the profits. She pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a forgery device.

Three years later, police arrested Nunez after she attempted to use a credit-card machine at a hotel where she worked to divert $20,000 to her personal bank account, according to court records.

Nunez pleaded guilty to a fraudulent schemes and artifices charge.

Nunez initially agreed to speak with The Republic, then canceled because of "a very important family matter" and referred questions to her attorney.

Her attorney, Alexander Kolodin, said Nunez "categorically denies any accusations of forgery." He did not answer 16 specific questions sent to him by email.

'Sham appellant' covering for a competitor?
Multiple attorneys who represented the denied medical-marijuana dispensaries told the Board of Adjustment about the similarities in the appeals and questioned whether one individual or entity — perhaps a competitor dispensary — is behind all of them.

"When looking at this application and appellant, nothing has been clear to us as to who our actual opposition is," attorney Lindsay Schube said at the board's March meeting.

"There is a very, very odd ... kind of commingling between three separate cases and literally the three applications that are before you have identical language … and they are all paid for by either Miss Layla Ressler or Mr. Joe Villasenor," attorney Ben Graff said minutes later at the same meeting.

The memo from Withey Morris, filed by the dispensary with the case scheduled to go before the board on May 11, also alleged Villasenor violated Phoenix lobbying rules by paying for the appeals but failing to disclose his client.

Phoenix lobbying rules require lobbyists to register and disclose all clients. Villasenor is registered, but his only listed client is his own company — Sovereign Land Assets.

Villasenor said he did not have a client because he assisted in these cases pro bono.

Allegations denied
In denying the allegations made against them, Villasenor and Ressler point back at the attorneys, accusing them of trying to intimidate opposition and circumvent the public process.

Villasenor said he got involved and paid for two of the appeals after the Nunez family contacted him with neighborhood concerns about the medical-marijuana facilities.

Ressler said her uncle asked her to represent him on the other appeal because he owns a business nearby.

Villasenor and Ressler both said they were not paid by a marijuana competitor to oppose the medical-marijuana facilities, although Villasenor said he has been paid to oppose a dispensary for a competitor in the past.

Villasenor said he filed a complaint against Graff, one of the dispensary attorneys, with the State Bar of Arizona, accusing Graff of lying and making false statements about him and others. Ressler provided a copy of the complaint to The Republic, but a spokesman from the state Bar said there is no record of Villasenor filing such a complaint.

Graff said he was unaware of the complaint until provided a copy by The Republic.

"I stand behind every statement I made to the Board of Adjustment in the representation of my client," Graff said. "The allegations made in the draft Bar complaint are demonstrably false and a clear attempt to alter the facts and undisputed evidence."

Enough community outreach?
Ressler and Villasenor said they got involved in the appeals because the medical-marijuana dispensaries had not done enough public outreach to educate the community — something both of them do for a living.

Ressler said that although the dispensaries sent out information to nearby businesses and residents, they didn't host community meetings or go door to door to make sure everyone understood what they were planning to bring to the community.

"If you want to be a good community player and a good community partner, that's what you do. And again, I just go back to my basic value that the voice of the community is important. And our process has been developed for the community to be involved," she said.

During the appeals, Villasenor and Ressler brought up concerns about the proximity of the proposed medical-marijuana facilities to churches and libraries.

Phoenix's medical-marijuana ordinances require that a dispensary or cultivation center acquire special approval if it locates within 1,320 feet from a place of worship.

But most of the churches that Villasenor discussed during the hearings were not legally established with the city. They did not have a proper certificate of occupancy.

Phoenix Planning Director Alan Stephenson said a church must have a certificate of occupancy to qualify for the spacing requirement from a medical-marijuana facility.

Some members of the Board of Adjustment appeared sympathetic to the non-legally established churches, however, and the board voted to overturn the hearing officer's decision in favor of the churches and other community opposition.

Ressler and Villasenor also said they were concerned about one of the dispensaries' proximity to Desert Sage Library, in the case scheduled for May 11. The ordinance also requires special approval if a dispensary locates within 1,320 feet from a "public community center."

Ressler and Villasenor say they believe Desert Sage Library, and all libraries, should qualify as "public community centers."

They don't, Stephenson said. The city went through a long public process to adopt its current medical-marijuana spacing requirements, and libraries were never mentioned, he said. It would be inappropriate to say libraries qualify now since there was never public input on that topic, he said.

Board of Adjustment shake-up
Days after the Withey Morris memo was submitted to the city — and the allegations it contained became public — Mayor Greg Stanton asked for the replacement of four of the seven Board of Adjustment members.


Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (Photo: Tom Tingle/The Republic)

Three of their terms had expired and another wished to resign from the board, according to city staff members.

“I believe it became time for new leadership on the board, and that time will show the Council did the right thing," Stanton said in a statement.

The request went before the City Council a week later. Although Stanton did not say why he wanted to replace the board members, some of the other council members linked the change to the Withey Morris memo and other allegations.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio tried — but failed — to get the item delayed to a future meeting.

"There's an innuendo around this board that they've done things wrong ... this is the first time that I've ever seen a citizens group collectively being attacked by a law firm in the city of Phoenix," DiCiccio said at the meeting.

Board of Adjustment members Emilio Gaynor, Yvonne Hunter and Steve Beuerlein voted in favor of the opposition in both of the appeals where Villasenor and his associates assisted with the opposition. Talonya Adams voted in favor of one of those appeals but left the meeting before casting a vote in the second.

All four board members voted in favor of the facility in the case where Nunez worked for the dispensary.

Stanton replaced Adams, Gaynor and Hunter along with Pam Koester, who told city staff she wanted to resign from the board.

Adams, Gaynor and Hunter said they were not permitted per city rules to answer questions about their decisions in specific cases. However, Adams and Hunter said that all cases are different and can't be compared with one another.

Adams, the former board chairwoman, said she learned of her replacement less than a week before the board's next scheduled meeting and did not receive an explanation.

Asked if she thought her removal was tied to the medical-marijuana appeal controversy, she said she didn't know.

"I would hope ... that there is not a nexus between a manner in which a board member votes and their ability to continue to serve. That would be concerning to me," Adams said.
Arizona Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Legal on College Campuses

In a major win for medical cannabis patients in Arizona, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that public college students with medical cards cannot face criminal charges for possessing or using marijuana on campus. The court ruled against a 2012 law that banned cannabis on public higher education institutions, finding it unconstitutional and a violation of voters’ intent. The court’s ruling also vacated the cannabis possession charge of the student who fought the law—and won.

How One Student Fought To Allow Medical Cannabis at College
Arizona voters approved the state’s medical marijuana program in 2010. Originally, the law placed prohibitions on having and using cannabis on preschool and elementary school campuses, school buses and prisons. But the law did not restrict medical cannabis on college and university campuses.

Arizona has a Voter Protection Act, which means lawmakers can’t pass laws that overturn or restrict anything voters approved. Instead, they can only pass legislation that “furthers the intent” of the measure voters passed.

So when Arizona passed a law in 2012 that banned medical cannabis use at institutes of higher learning, it violated the Voter Protection Act. The ban, in other words, did not further the intent of the law, since voters did not intend to ban medical cannabis on campus.

That’s exactly the argument Andre Maestas used to vacate his 2014 criminal charge for marijuana possession when he was a student at ASU. In 2014, ASU police arrested Maestas for having just 0.4 grams of cannabis in his dorm room.

The state’s medical cannabis program permits cardholders to possess up to 2.5 ounces at a time. But Maestas was charged with a class 6 felony for possession.

Prosecutors ultimately reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and tried to reach a plea deal. But Maestas fought the charges in court and ended up appealing his sentence.

Last year, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in Maestas’ favor and dismissed his conviction for possession. The state, however, continued to pursue charges by appealing the ruling, which brought the case to the Supreme Court.

Colleges Can Still Ban Cannabis Use On Campus
Even though medical card holders can use cannabis on college campuses without legal consequences, they can still face disciplinary action from their universities. Many public universities across the country ban cannabis use and possession even if a state has legalized it.

Public universities say their federal funding is on the line. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And schools say they must comply with those laws to remain eligible for federal grants and subsidies.

In the case leading up to Wednesday’s Arizona Supreme Court decision, the State used this loss of funding argument to oppose the repeal of the 2012 law. But the court found that “the State has not shown that a university would lose (or has lost) federal funding if a state prosecutor did not prosecute violations of the university’s program.”

The court also revoked universities’ ability to criminally charge someone for marijuana possession, something the 2012 law allowed. Schools do not have the authority to enact criminal laws, the court ruled.

So, students who break their university’s weed rules won’t face criminal charges. But their schools can still enact tough sanctions on violators.

Arizona State University, for example, prohibits anyone from using or possessing marijuana on campus or in a residence hall whether they have a medical card or not. Students who break the rule face disciplinary action and arrest, according to the university website.

The Arizona Department of Health Services doesn’t track how many college students in Arizona have medical marijuana cards. But of the state’s roughly 167,000 registered patients, 25 percent are 30 years old or younger.

So if you’re a medical cannabis patient attending college in Arizona, don’t worry about facing criminal charges for lighting up. Just know the best place to medicate is still somewhere off-campus.
This is a travesty and not the least of it is that the term "hash", as well known by any of us with a bit of historical background in MJ, is a completely undefined term. Even how they use it below in the article is sort of weird. I see dispensaries selling "hash" that is dry sift and I have from personal experience seen a LOT of traditional hash from N Africa and the far middle east and there is lots of stuff in between.

The logic espoused behind this ruling makes not fucking sense whatsoever.

Arizona court: Hashish not included in medical marijuana law

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona court has ruled that medical marijuana patients can still face arrest when in possession of hashish because it isn’t mentioned or included by name in a voter-approved pot initiative passed in 2010.

The Arizona Court of Appeals handed down the decision Tuesday in the case of Rodney Jones, a cardholder in the state’s medical marijuana program who was arrested in March 2013 at a Prescott hotel and indicted on a count each of cannabis possession and drug paraphernalia possession.

Police said at the time they had found Jones had 0.05 ounces of hashish in a jar, according to the appeals court ruling. After spending a year in jail, Jones waived his right to a jury trial in the case. He was later convicted and sentenced to more than two years in prison with credit for time served.

In his appeal, Jones had sought to have his conviction and sentence overturned by the court. But two of the judges on the three-member appeals court panel rejected his request, saying that the state’s medical marijuana act approved in 2010 “is silent” on hashish.

“If the drafters wanted to immunize the possession of hashish they should have said so,” the ruling said. “We cannot conclude that Arizona voters intended to do so.”

Hashish is a resin extracted from cannabis plants, and it is often used in oils and other medical marijuana products that are a part of the nation’s burgeoning, multibillion pot market.

The ruling had found that hashish is recognized under state law as a narcotic distinct from marijuana by the Legislature because of its potency levels.

Jones’ attorney did not immediately return a call requesting comment Wednesday.

Sarah Mayhew, who represented the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice in supporting Jones in the lawsuit, said the parties would appeal the case to the Arizona Supreme Court.

“There are several things in this ruling that are just flat-out wrong,” said Mayhew, also an attorney in the Pima County Public Defender’s office.

She said the court had sought to apply marijuana and cannabis definitions in the state’s criminal code to the language drafted by medical marijuana advocates in the 2010 ballot initiative.

Voters had approved the medical marijuana act in order to provide broad protections to people seeking to access pot for medicinal reasons, she said.

By taking this step, the court narrowed the intent of the voters, Mayhew argued.

Arizona’s defiant marijuana firms

Arizona cannabis companies defy a court decision banning the sale of extracts, California marijuana businesses deal with the state’s July 1 transition, and an emerging player in the MJ industry plans a large indoor grow in Iowa.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the cannabis industry over the past week.

Business as usual

Despite a court ruling that Arizona medical marijuana dispensaries were banned from selling extracts, it’s business as usual in the Copper State.

Demitri Downing, founder and executive director of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association of Arizona, doesn’t see the court decision as a setback. He sees it as a mishap.

Downing said he hasn’t heard of any business shutting down production or distribution of extracts and doesn’t foresee it impacting bottom lines “much or at all” as companies proceed “as if nothing has changed.”
And while he’s heard rumors of one or two dispensaries taking extracts off their shelves, Arizona’s companies are essentially standing together, he added.

Arizona medical marijuana firms, which are vertically integrated and produce the extracts they sell, have been conducting business like this for years, and it’s Downing’s understanding the state Department of Health has said it won’t make any changes.

He expects the ruling from the Arizona Court of Appeals to be sent to the state Supreme Court, with support coming from “every which direction” from dispensaries, patients and patient advocacy groups.

Downing, who is confident the Supreme Court will rule the issue was misinterpreted by the appellate court judges, said he sees a bright future for the state’s medical marijuana program.
"Copperstate acknowledged it uses pesticides and fungicides on its marijuana"

Ain't it grand. Used to really like AZ, but seems like the place has gotten very weird in the last 10-20 years.

Regulators investigating AZ medical marijuana grow after chemical spill


State regulators are investigating Arizona's largest medical marijuana grow facility after complaints about working conditions and a chemical spill.

The spill June 6 at Copperstate Farms in Snowflake sent 16 people to the emergency room for evaluation. The company said no employees were admitted to the hospital for more serious medical treatment.

"When it first happened, I became very nauseous. My eyes started burning and I didn't know why," said former Copperstate employee Kara Bracken. “My eyes were almost swollen shut and I was really nauseous and really dizzy.”

Bracken, who resigned from the 40-acre greenhouse facility this month, said she felt sick for five days after the spill and had bouts of dizzy spells “for about three weeks.”

Both the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality inspected the facility in July, according to Copperstate Farms spokesman Douglas Cole, after Arizona’s Family began asking questions about the case.

ADOSH inspected the facility July 10 for a health-related complaint that remains under investigation, records show. ADEQ visited the following day, Cole said.

A forklift driver accidentally toppled a plastic container of a common greenhouse acid cleaner called “Strip-It” onto the fertilizer room floor, Cole said. He estimated the spill was about three to five gallons. Strip-It’s manufacturer warns the product can cause burns if inhaled and “may be fatal if absorbed through the skin.”

Employees diluted the chemical and washed it down a drain that Cole said is not connected to a sewer. ADEQ inspectors have asked Copperstate to prove where the drain leads, according to an inspection report.

ADEQ also asked the company to test the acidity of a retention pond on the property and provide more information about its hazardous material safety training and the chemicals and fertilizers it uses. Cole said the company had complied with all the agency's requests except for the action item regarding the drain; he said forensic plumbers will inspect the system next week to ensure it is a closed loop.

After the spill, Cole said the company brought in consultants to review Copperstate’s safety procedures, but one current and three former employees said there are still issues with safety training and protective equipment.

Former employees raise other health, safety concerns
The current and former employees claimed health issues among the greenhouse workers are common.

Cale Nuest said he developed breathing problems while working in the greenhouse.

“I had an inhaler for work, I had an inhaler for home, and I had a breathing machine which I would use every day at lunch,” he said.

Nuest said he was fired by the company after hiring an attorney to pursue a worker’s compensation claim. He and Bracken, both in the processing department, said they regularly noticed coworkers carrying inhalers and experiencing breathing problems.

"I had such trouble breathing, I bought my own mask. Paid for it myself and I still had to go home at lunch and do a breathing treatment just so I could work the afternoon," Nuest said.

“You have all the [marijuana pollen], all the stuff that they spray on the weed is in the air, and you're breathing it. And it's night and day: when I go to work, I'm good and within the hour, I'm gasping for air.”

Copperstate acknowledged it uses pesticides and fungicides on its marijuana; however, Cole said he's not aware of widespread breathing problems and suggested it could be an allergic reaction to the marijuana itself.

"You're growing products that are God-made and there are all kinds of various organic materials in a greenhouse," he said.

Studies have shown cannabis can cause allergic reactions, although it is considered rare.

Another former employee, Michele Angel-Nierop, said she felt sick after breaking up chemical packets by hand, and ran into trouble on another occasion while working with irrigation lines in garden gloves.

"Because of whatever chemical they use [to flush the lines], I mean I had my fingers peel one of the times," she said.

"There was no safety training."

Once a greenhouse for tomatoes and cucumbers, Copperstate Farms purchased the 40-acre facility in Snowflake in September 2016 from NatureSweet USA and converted it to a medical marijuana grow. Copperstate currently has 10 acres in production and 222 full-time employees, Cole said.

The facility began operating in 2017 and has grown rapidly. It is run by Fife Symington, the son of the former Arizona governor of the same name.

The three former employees who spoke on the record say the spill and other health problems stem from a lack of adequate safety training and equipment; things like respirators, spill stations, gloves and eye protection. Bracken said company supervisors made eye protection mandatory for trimmers on the same day as our first interview.

"There was no safety training," said Angel-Nierop. "There was no training," added Nuest.

A study on marijuana workers in Colorado last year concluded "there is an imminent need to establish formal health and safety training" across the industry after 47 percent of the cannabis workers polled reported little to no training at all.

Among workers in marijuana grow facilities, 28 percent reported no health and safety training at all and another 28 percent reported receiving only one-time training, according to researchers at Colorado State University.

Here in Arizona, federal records show Copperstate is the third cannabis grow facility to be investigated for a health or safety complaint since December 2016. A greenhouse in Santa Cruz County was cited in 2016 for six violations, including a fine for a violation involving breathing masks.

"We welcome our regulatory agencies to come in and tell us any suggestions they may have, and we will implement that," Cole said. He said the company recently hired a full-time safety officer who was in place before the spill.

Copperstate has become the largest private sector in Snowflake, with a current workforce of 222 people. It contributes about $80,000 per year in special taxes to the town's general fund, which is less than $1 million total.

Employees say Copperstate has some of the best wages for unskilled workers in town, starting at $15 an hour with health benefits. “We constantly have a waiting list of potential employees who want to work at our facility,” Cole said.

But former workers say the competition over the high-paying jobs makes employees expendable, and makes supervisors reluctant to implement change. "They hold it over you: ‘You make more than teachers. We can treat you however we want,’” Bracken said.
"lawyers contend the state Court of Appeals got it wrong earlier this year when it concluded in a 2-1 ruling that a 2010 voter-approved law that legalized the medical use of marijuana does not cover products made from hashish and other extracts of the plant. The majority concluded that hashish, essentially the resin of the cannabis plant and the products made from the resin are legally not the same as the plant itself and its possession remains a crime, even for medical marijuana users."

This has to be one of the greatest idiocies ever in judicial thinking. What utter and complete horseshit.

Officials seek to overturn edible marijuana ruling

Attorneys for a Yavapai County resident are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision which makes criminals out of medical marijuana patients who choose to use edibles and liquids rather than smoking the plant's dried flowers and leaves.

In new filings, the lawyers contend the state Court of Appeals got it wrong earlier this year when it concluded in a 2-1 ruling that a 2010 voter-approved law that legalized the medical use of marijuana does not cover products made from hashish and other extracts of the plant. The majority concluded that hashish, essentially the resin of the cannabis plant and the products made from the resin are legally not the same as the plant itself and its possession remains a crime, even for medical marijuana users..

What the high court decides will most immediately affect more than the conviction of Rodney Jones, a registered medical marijuana patient, after he was found in possession of a jar containing 0.05 ounces of hashish. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years on the drug possession charge and another one year, to be served concurrently, on a charge of possessing drug paraphernalia, meaning the jar.

Jones, given credit for a year he spent behind bars while awaiting trial, has since been released but is hoping to have his conviction overturned.

But the larger question is whether patients will still be able to obtain alternate forms of marijuana that the state Department of Health Services has for years allowed allows to be sold through state-regulated dispensaries. These range from candy bars and gummy bears to oils that can be administered to children who have been recommended medical marijuana by a doctor.

"A lot of people are frightened by what it means to them in terms of their ability to access the medications they need,'' said Robert Mandel, one of Jones' lawyers.

"There are many people who literally cannot be smoking joints, or whatever it is they do nowadays, and cannot be eating the raw plant material, but who benefit from preparations and mixtures,'' he said. "I would certainly as a human being very disappointed to learn that they were unable to access the medications they need.''

The 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows those with a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from a state-regulated dispensary. At last count there were more than 174,000 people who qualify.

Mandel pointed out that state health officials from the beginning have concluded that means not just plants but products made from the plants -- and, more specifically, from the psychoactive resin. In fact, Mandel said, Jones obtained his drugs from a dispensary in Maricopa County.

In a ruling last year, a divided appellate court concluded that the 2010 law legalized only possession of the plant. More to the point, the majority decided that hashish is legally not the same as the plant itself, even though it comes from the plant.

Mandel said that ignores common sense -- and the whole reason for the medical marijuana law in the first place.
Court Rules Medical Cannabis Users Cannot Be Charged With DUI

The Arizona Court of Appeals last week ruled that the state’s medical cannabis patients who have been charged with a DUI may contest the charges against them, forcing law enforcement officials to prove henceforth that those found with THC in their systems were too impaired to operate a vehicle.

The case

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The ruling stems from the 2013 arrest of an Arizona man named Nadir Ishak, in the city of Mesa. Ishak was arrested after an officer noticed his car drift into another lane and reported to have found Ishak to have bloodshot and watery eyes.

Ishak was later charged and convicted of driving with cannabis in his system. He was not convicted of a second charge, which was a DUI.

During his subsequent conviction, Ishak was denied the opportunity to present evidence that he was registered in Arizona as a medical cannabis patient.

The state first passed a law in 2010 allowing for the use of medical cannabis. Later, in 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled in the case of Dobson v. McClennen that medical cannabis was not necessarily grounds to charge patients with DUIs.

Problems with DUI charges

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The issue of driving under the influence of cannabis is problematic, and not just because cannabis is used as medicine by thousands of patients nationwide.

The effects of cannabis are such that it is difficult to determine how people under the influence of the substance may be affected at a given time, given both how long it stays in the bloodstream and the different ways in which it is processed amongst different people.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges the issue, saying on its website,

It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects… It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone, and currently impossible to predict specific effects based on THC-COOH concentrations.

The ruling

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Fast forward to this week and the Arizona Court of Appeals tossed out Ishak’s DUI conviction.

The court’s opinion – authored by presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen – first points out that, under the state’s medical cannabis act, a patient having any amount of cannabis in their system does not automatically impair their driving abilities.

The opinion goes on to state that the state law does not include any provision stating a level at which a patient may reasonably be considered intoxicated by cannabis.

Therefore, the opinion concludes, it is reasonable for medical patients who believe that they have been unfairly charged with a DUI to be able to challenge the charge.

[A]n authorized medical marijuana user charged with violatint [the law] may establishthe affirmative defense… by showing a preponderance of the evidence that the marijuana metabolite concentration in his or her system was insufficient to cause him to be impaired at the time he or she operated or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.

The opinion states that the defendant may successfully fight the charge by presenting evidence that they were not impaired and by cross-examining the officer that arrested them, the forensic scientists who have been called by the State.

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