Medical marijuana dispensary requirement under fire

February 16, 2012

The State of Arizona and the Department of Health Services are headed back to court over the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law. A pro-medical marijuana group is contesting several requirements, including the rule that marijuana dispensaries must have a medical director.

In 2010, Arizona voters legalized medical marijuana. The state Department of Health Services was tasked with creating program guidelines. Last month, Compassion First Arizona won a judgment in Maricopa County Superior Court that struck down some of the rules for dispensary owners. Now, they’ve filed an amendment to their complaint, arguing, among other things, that the health department is creating an undue burden by requiring a medical director at dispensaries. Gerald Gaines is the founder of Compassion First Arizona.

“The judge ruled that A.D.H.S. did not have rights to change the dispensary awarding process other than to help control theft and diversion," Gaines said. "That’s it.”

Gaines says a medical director simply can’t do that.

Will Humble is head of the state’s health department. He says the medical director is important to help dispensary operators and patients understand medical marijuana’s proper uses.

“Until something happens, or someone from the courts, or somebody else that has authority tells us to stop, for us it’s full speed ahead," Humble said. "We’re going to keep shoveling coal until we get these dispensaries licensed.” 

The rules for medical marijuana dispensaries are currently under review by the Attorney General’s office. D.H.S. has said they hope to issue licenses in the fall.

Updated 2/16/2011 4:55pm