Legal Reference

Proposed Medical Marijuana Rules issued by Arizona Department of Health Services

To view the proposed medical marijuana rules view this PDF file at the Republic
Arizona Medical Marijuana Draft Rules pdf
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Arizona medical marijuana proposed rules released

by Michelle Ye Hee Lee - Dec. 16, 2010 10:08 PM

The Arizona Republic

The state health department released its first draft of medical-marijuana rules late Thursday, providing a glimpse at how the program may work in Arizona.

The rules spell out who may qualify for medical marijuana, establish operating criteria for dispensaries and provide strict guidelines for doctors who may recommend marijuana.

The release kicks off a three-week public-comment period, but the Arizona Department of Health Services will have final say on how to implement a medical-marijuana program in the state.

In November, voters passed Proposition 203, which will allow qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to receive up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from dispensaries or cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants if they live 25 miles or farther from a dispensary.

The state health department must finish drafting the rules by April 13. The agency will then review applications from people who want to use medical marijuana or operate a dispensary. The program should be fully functioning by summer 2011, when dispensaries have had time to grow the plants.

ADHS Director Will Humble said the department had two goals: Make the rules strict enough to prohibit people who don't have serious medical conditions from abusing the system without impeding patients' access to marijuana, and ensure that medical experts are deeply involved in the process of patients obtaining and using marijuana. [ What's next will these government tyrants come up with a bunch of silly rules to prevent us from abusing aspirin? Or maybe booze? Perhaps limit us to a one six pack of beer purchase per day? Any time you let government nannies set the rules they will screw things up! ]

"I'm taking this seriously that this is the medical-marijuana act, not the recreational-marijuana act," Humble said.

The rules cover everything from the definition of "current photograph" for identification cards to the number of hand-washing sinks a dispensary must have. [Why on earth do sick people need a "government issued photo Id" to get their prescription?]

ADHS officials spent the past four weeks writing the 47-page draft, which is available on the department's website.

Staffers researched other states' medical-marijuana rules and reviewed rules for other state programs.

But because the medical-marijuana program is unlike any other existing program, officials used their creativity and their personal experience of crafting other state protocol, said Tom Salow, acting manager of administrative counsel and rules at ADHS. [Yea the personal experience of people who love it when cops arrest people for smoking marijuana. You can be sure the laws will reflect their police state views!]

Doctor involvement

According to Prop. 203, qualified patients or their designated caregivers could get a doctor's recommendation to receive medical marijuana.

Doctors must certify in writing that their patient likely will benefit from using marijuana as a medicine to treat his or her debilitating disease. These conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana is not a federally-approved medicine. But department officials drafted rules so that doctors would oversee the program and be held accountable for patients' access to marijuana, Humble said.

Here are some key proposals related to physician involvement in the program:

- Requires a medical director.

ADHS wants all dispensaries to hire a medical director who will be on-call or on-site at the facility. [Yea that should drive the price of medical marijuana with a bunch of unneeded but expensive government regulations! I guess you could say it is also a jobs program for government nannies!]

Medical directors would make sure patients or their caregivers document changes in their symptoms and track their marijuana usage. They also would ensure dispensaries provide educational materials, such as how to administer marijuana safely [I bet they tell us this will prevent 1,000's of deaths due to marijuana overdoses - honest!], signs of substance abuse or dependency, and possible side effects.

Medical directors would not be allowed to write medical-marijuana recommendations for patients.

- Defines physician-patient relationship.

The department wants to require doctors to have an ongoing physician-patient relationship before they recommend marijuana. [A jobs program for doctors! Damn right! You will have to visit the doctor 4 times before getting a prescription or recommendation for medical marijuana! Can you imagine how these government idiots would screw up the medical system if we let them write rules for other drugs?]

That means the patient would need to have seen the doctor for at least one year and had at least four visits for the debilitating condition, or the doctor assumes primary responsibility for managing the patient's debilitating condition and for providing routine care.

- Specifies "severe and chronic pain."

Medical-marijuana opponents have expressed concern that Prop. 203 lists "severe and chronic pain" as a symptom that would qualify a patient to receive medical-marijuana recommendations.

The department's proposal specifies the patient must have severe and chronic pain as a result of a chronic or debilitating disease or its treatment.

- Holds physicians accountable.

Physicians will be the "gatekeepers" of Arizona's medical-marijuana program, Humble said. The department wants physicians to thoroughly assess the risks and benefits of their patient's marijuana use and make sure only patients who truly need marijuana for medical use have access to it. [ Well this sounds like an attempt by the government tyrants to prevent people from using medical marijuana! ]

The department's proposal does not require doctors to provide proof, such as MRIs and X-rays to prove chronic pain, in addition to their medical-marijuana recommendations. This means the rules "put the onus on the physician to practice ethical procedures," said Laura Nelson, ADHS chief medical officer.

Regulating system

Even before Election Day, entrepreneurs looking to cash in on the state's medical-marijuana industry had been preparing to open non-profit dispensaries.

Prop. 203 caps the number of dispensaries in the state: Only one dispensary is allowed for every 10 pharmacies. [Of course if you limit the supply of medical marijuana this will create another black market just like the current black market for illegal drugs and of course make the price of medical marijuana much higher then it would be in a free market!]

The department's rules do not specify how it will review and approve dispensary applications, but officials expect to decide on a process by the time they begin accepting applications.

The rules are designed to provide oversight on dispensaries. Requirements include:

- The department will require an electronic security system that consists of panic buttons and video surveillance that ADHS can access and monitor at any time. [Wow! Sounds like the book 1984 where government tyrants monitor everybody 24/7! Hiel Hitler, medical marijuana is bring us a bigger better police state!]

- Dispensary applicants must provide a slew of documents and records, including security policies; floor plans drawn to scale locating each hand-washing sink, panic button and video camera; a business plan that details the dispensary's ongoing viability; and even whether a dispensary board member has any unpaid court-ordered child support. [Don't these government nannies have anything productive to do?]

- A dispensary must grow at least 70 percent of the marijuana it provides patients. It may not acquire from or sell to other dispensaries more than 30 percent of its marijuana. [Do these same silly laws apply to other drugs? Hell no! The government nannies just want to make it as hard as possible for sick people to get medical marijuana!]

- Dispensaries also must follow specific guidelines for inventory control. A dispensary agent must document at the beginning and end of each day how much marijuana the dispensary acquires, harvests, sells, disposes of and disburses. Among other requirements, the agent must specify the date and method of disposal, date and amount of harvested pot, and the estimated amount of marijuana infused in edible products. [All of which will drive up the price of medical marijuana! Don't these government idiots have anything to do that will actually help us]

Looking forward

The public-comment period ends Jan. 7. The department will release a new draft of the rules Jan. 31 and hold public meetings mid-February.

Prop. 203 requires the department to develop an electronic data and verification system to keep track of patient and dispensary information. Law-enforcement and dispensary agents must be able to access this system at any time. [It sounds like this is not to help sick people, but create a bigger police state to allow the police to arrest people for trivial violations of the medical marijuana laws!]

The department will focus on developing this system starting next week.

Salow said he hopes a wide variety of people submit their opinions, especially those who opposed Prop. 203. He said department officials will read and review every comment. [But I doubt if they will listen to any of them. Or listen to any comments that are not from cops or fellow government tyrants!]

Humble said he is open to changing any part of the initial draft, as long as the suggestion fits under the department's goals for the program. [Translation: If you have any ideas that will help prevent people from using medical marijuana I am open to them. Otherwize your probably a drug user and criminal an I am not open to any of your ideas!]

"We're not going to change our goal, period, no matter what anyone comments. Our overall goal is to make this a medical-marijuana law. So whatever comments that we get in have to fit within that framework," Humble said. [Again I have a closed mind and am open to ONLY suggestions which make it more difficult for people to get or use medical marijuana!]