First dispensary opens for business; legislator seeks to repeal Arizona's law
Despite continued opposition from Attorney General Tom Horne and other high-profile opponents, Arizona's medical marijuana program made considerable progress in 2012. In August, 97 registration certificates were awarded, and in December, Arizona Organix in Glendale became the first dispensary to begin serving patients.
Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery tried to convince a judge to shut down the program, but to no avail. In December 2012, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon rejected Horne and Montgomery’s arguments and refused to declare Arizona’s law invalid.
Sadly, some legislators still refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of this sensible, compassionate law. Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) has filed a resolution that would refer the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act back to the ballot in November 2014. If approved by the legislature, HCR 2003 would put this much-needed program at risk of being repealed. Fortunately, a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in January 2013 found that 59% of Arizona voters support the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, so Rep. Kavanagh is probably just wasting everybody's time.
Please click here to send a message to legislators asking them to OPPOSE this heartless repeal effort and keep it OFF the ballot.
Arizona voters passed Prop 203, MPP's medical marijuana initiative, in November 2010. The Department of Health Services has been issuing ID cards to patients since early 2011, and it would be a tragedy for this program to be jeopardized by legislators who do not care about the needs of suffering patients.
2011 legislature weakens Prop 203
Sadly, the Arizona legislature slightly rolled back Prop 203’s protections with legislation in both 2011 and 2012, despite the state’s Voter Protection Act, which was designed to prevent legislative meddling.
Most recently, the legislature passed and Gov. Brewer signed H.B. 2349, a bill banning medical marijuana on the campuses of all colleges and vocational schools in the state. Medical marijuana advocates predict the law will be deemed unconstitutional if challenged in court.
In 2011, the legislature passed and Gov. Brewer signed H.B. 2541, which will possibly allow an employer to fire a medical marijuana patient based on a report alleging workplace impairment from a colleague who is “believed to be reliable.” It will also seemingly allow termination based on a positive drug test, which contradicts Prop 203’s explicit language protecting patients from termination without proof of workplace impairment or possession.
Also in 2011, the legislature passed and Gov. Brewer signed H.B. 2585, which contradicts Prop 203 by adding confidential medical marijuana patient data to the prescription drug monitoring program, where it will be subject to “fishing expeditions” by law enforcement and others.
Are you a patient?
If you are a seriously ill patient who was planning to use a dispensary, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and include your story and how the proposed repeal of Arizona's law would affect you. Be sure to include your address and nine-digit ZIP code.
Learn about Arizona's marijuana laws
Did you know that Arizona has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the country? For example, the penalty for possession of just one ounce of marijuana can be a felony that carries a potential penalty of 18 months in jail and a $150,000 fine! And the state is ranked 16th in the country in terms of arrests per 100,000 citizens. You can learn more about Arizona's marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
Also, in 2009, Arizona passed H.B. 2013, which requires drug testing for public assistance recipients if there is “reasonable cause.” All adult recipients must answer three questions during the application process and must complete a drug test within 10 days, if any of the answers provide “reasonable cause” of illegal substance use or if referred by law enforcement or another agency. Recipients who test positive will be denied cash-assistance benefits for a year.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Arizona, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service, if you haven't done so already.