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Arizona Medical Marijuana Law: Gov. Jan Brewer Signs Measure To Ban Medical Marijuana On College Campuses

But if you have a script for oxy or vicodin, bring some extras. -UA

PHOENIX - Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed into law on Tuesday a bill to ban medical marijuana from being used on the campuses of state universities and community colleges in the latest salvo in a long-running battle over legalization of the drug.

Arizona's move to bar the drug's use on campus is the latest in a drive to roll back laws legalizing the therapeutic use of marijuana, which remains classified as an illegal narcotic under U.S. federal law.

Supporters said the Arizona law was designed to protect federal funding for institutions of higher education, which they said was at threat if medical marijuana use was allowed in state schools.

"With the health and safety of Arizona's students, as well as literally hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, this legislation is critically necessary," State Representative Amanda Reeve, a Republican, said in a statement.

"Our children and adult students are far too important to risk. I'm proud to say we acted swiftly and decisively when confronted by this obvious concern," she added.

The measure sailed through the state legislature with bipartisan support. The law, due to take effect this summer, is expected to face a legal challenge by medical marijuana proponents.

Arizona voters passed a medical marijuana measure by a razor-thin margin in 2010, and the state is among 16, plus Washington, D.C., with some sort of legalized medical-marijuana statutes, according to the National Drug Policy Alliance.

Reeve said more than $666 million in federal dollars could be jeopardized if Arizona allowed medical marijuana on its higher education campuses. Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said that the drug has "no place on a college campus."

"Marijuana remains a federal controlled substance, regardless of whether it is being used as a medicinal agent," Benson said.

The Arizona move comes as the federal government has sought in recent months to shut down storefront medical weed shops and greenhouses in California and other mostly Western states deemed by federal investigators to be serving as drug-trafficking fronts, as well as those located near schools and parks.

On Monday, U.S. federal agents in California raided a San Francisco Bay-area college known as the "Princeton of Pot" and briefly detained its founder. The school, Oaksterdam University, offers courses in growing and dispensing marijuana.

Federal authorities have also intensified their crackdown in Colorado and Washington state, where voters will be deciding in ballot initiatives in November whether to make those states the first to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

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Arizona MMJ stats

50 in Yuma County apply for state medical marijuana

Power in numbers. -UA

Since the Arizona Department of Health Services began accepting applications for medicinal marijuana on April 14, more than 8,700 residents, including 50 in Yuma County, have applied to receive the cards authorizing them to legally possess and grow marijuana.

To receive the cards, patients must first obtain a written certificate from a licensed Arizona doctor confirming they have one or more of the qualifying conditions in the program such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, etc.

“All doctors that fall into four categories are able to certify for (medical marijuana),” said Laura Oxley, ADHS director of communications. “Allopaths, which are your normal MDs, homeopaths, naturopaths and osteopaths can provide a physician's rights certification to their patients they believe will benefit from it.”

Once they have their physician's certificate, patients must submit a medicinal marijuana application to ADHS, sign a statement promising they will not allow unauthorized individuals to use the drug, and pay a $150 application fee or $75 if the patient is enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps).

ADHS then reviews each application and renders a decision on its validity. Of the 8,738 applications received by ADHS, 8,670 of them have been approved, with only seven being rejected.

“The state does not get between the patient and their doctor,” said Oxley. “If they have a completed application they will receive a card. The complications come when they don't send in everything that they need to.”

After receiving their card, patients may possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana, or if they don't live within 25 miles of a dispensary, they may grow up to 12 cannabis plants in an enclosed, locked area on their property.

Currently, there are no medical marijuana dispensaries in Yuma County. It's unlikely there will be any time soon since ADHS stopped accepting dispensary applications pending a lawsuit filed by the attorney general on May 27 seeking a declaratory judgement on the legality of the law.

The case is pending in U.S. District Court of Arizona.

As of July 28, ADHS has received 6,912 requests to grow marijuana.

Numbers on Medicinal Marijuana in Arizona

Patients    Totals      Percentage of Total

Applications Received: 8,738
Applications Approved:8,670    99.2%
Applications Denied:7
In Review Status:17

Requesting to Grow:6,912     79.1%

Male:6,559   75.1%
Female:2,179  24.9%

Age of Applicants
Under 18:5       0.06%
18-30:1,789     20.5%
31-40:1,752     20.1%
41-50:1,760     20.1%
Over 51:3,432  39.3%

Medical Conditions Reported
Cancer             440   5.1%
Hepatitis C        584   6.9%
Cachexia          186   2.1%
Seizures           225   2.6%
Glaucoma         188   2.2%
Sclerosis             7   0.08%
Chronic Pain     7,430    85%
Muscle Spasms   1,405   16.1%
HIV/AIDS          164     1.9%
Crohn's Disease   151    1.7%
Nausea           1,132     13%
It is possible to report more than one condition.

Applications Received:368
Applications Approved:347

Information provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Ignorant in Arizona

WOW, reading the comments and tone from this article really gives me a different feeling toward the Arizona MMJ program. It is no surprise Arizonans dragged their heals for so long on closing the loophole, and are now deadlocked over id pictures! The ignorance is saddening.  Cannabis should be an option for patients, NOT THE LAST RESORT.  Fortunately through education and patient testimonials reporters such as this one are soon to represent the minority in the community.  -UA

Arizona health director: First-day stats for medical marijuana promising

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services  East Valley Tribune 4/14/11

The first Arizonan who got state permission to legally smoke marijuana is not some 22-year-old claiming he's in pain.

It's a 60-year-old Scottsdale resident living with Crohn's Disease.

That, coupled with other statistics from the first day Arizonans could get certified to buy, possess and use marijuana, pleases state Health Director Will Humble. He said if the patterns hold, it will prove that Arizona has successfully created a medical marijuana program as opposed to a recreational one.

The state's online application process for certifying people to buy, possess and use marijuana went live at 8 a.m. Thursday. Humble said the first applicant -- his name is not a public record -- had his paperwork reviewed and approved within a half hour, paving the way for the state to send him a card certifying him as a ``qualifying patient.''

That allows him -- and anyone else who gets a card -- to purchase up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

For the moment, though, none of the patients or the people who are certified as their caregivers will be buying anything, at least not legally. That's because the state is still going through the process of licensing the 125 dispensaries that will be allowed under Arizona law to sell the drug.

That triggers a provision in the 2010 voter-approved law which says anyone who lives at least 25 miles from a dispensary is entitled to grow their own medication. And with no clinics now and none anticipated for months, that means everyone.

In the first nine hours after the web site went ``live,'' Humble said 110 people submitted applications. But only about two thirds of those ended up with health officials putting a card in an envelope.

The rest? Humble said one of the biggest problems involved the electronic photographs which are required so they can become part of the ID card.

``If it wasn't exactly 2 inches by 2 inches, the computer was rejecting it,'' he said. Humble said the technical support team worked that out during the day.

But he said there also were some problems with the pictures that some would-be marijuana users submitted. Humble said they simply found a photo of themselves on their computer and decided that would suffice.

It did not.

``It was a picture of them on their Harley next to a tree in the shade and it wasn't a clear picture,'' he said.

Humble said he actually expected more than 65 people to submit applications in the first hours, as the law allowed marijuana patients to go to their doctors to get the certification ahead of time.

``I thought we'd be into the couple of hundred range,'' he said. But Humble said that with the application process available online on a 24/7 basis, there may be people figuring they'd wait until the evening.

``A lot of folks know they don't have to apply during business hours,'' he said.

Humble also said the first-day figures don't provide him any clue of how many people will qualify to buy, possess and use marijuana.

The law approved by voters spells out that only those diagnosed by a doctor with certain medical conditions can get the required state certification. These include diseases like glaucoma and AIDS as well as chronic or debilitating conditions that lead to severe and chronic pain.

On top of that, the Health Department imposed various restrictions which Humble said are designed to keep physicians from setting up shop as ``certification mills'' to provide cards for those who want the drug strictly for recreational purposes.

Humble said he anticipates the number of certified users a year from now could be as few as 20,000 -- or as many as 100,000.

He said, though, the first-day statistics suggest to him that the system is working as he had hoped, with marijuana being recommended for medical purposes only.

Humble acknowledged, though, that more than half of the medical conditions reported fell into that chronic pain category, a classification he conceded could be abused. But he said that, absent more, there is no reason to believe that the doctors who made the certifications were acting improperly.

In fact, he pointed out that nearly half of all the applications came from people at least 40 years old, with 22 percent from those 51 and older.

He said states where the program has become largely recreational have the dominant group as men in their 20s and early 30s, ``not because men in those age ranges can't have medical conditions ... but by in large, men in their 20s and 30s are pretty darn healthy.''

It did turn out, at least for the first day, four out of five Arizona applicants were male.


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