Tag Archives: dispensary

Medical-marijuana growers await outcome of Arizona lottery for dispensaries

AZ Republic:

You can’t really tell what’s going on in the nondescript, tan stucco home in a booming Maricopa neighborhood until you walk inside, down the carpeted hallway, to the room with the warm yellow light glowing under the door.

“You don’t really smell it until the door is opened,” said Scott, 30, unlocking the door with a set of keys he always keeps with him. “And then, it hits you.”

Medical Marijuana Growers

Scott is one of more than 25,000 patients and caregivers who were allowed to grow medical marijuana beginning in 2010 while state officials fought the law and then figured out how to implement a plan for statewide dispensaries.The bedroom shelters a full-scale legal medical-marijuana farm, with 5-foot-tall plants sprouting crystallized buds, and other plants at varying degrees of growth. A custom ventilation system cools the room. A humidifier keeps it moist; a hydroponic system pumps nutrients into plant roots; and professionally wired high-powered grow lamps are rigged to a timer.

Today, however, will be the beginning of the end for many as the state Department of Health Services grants permission for 99 medical-marijuana dispensaries to open around the state.

Authors of the state’s medical-marijuana law intended to limit urban growing by forcing people to buy at dispensaries, so after today, legal growers within 25 miles of a dispensary must begin shutting down their operations except under limited circumstances.

The state will allow current cardholders to grow marijuana until they apply for their annual renewal. Over time, the law is expected to virtually eliminate all growers in the state’s urban areas who are not associated with dispensaries.

Growers such as Scott and his girlfriend, Jody, 44, who declined to give their last names for safety reasons, believe the rule unfairly — and illegally — forces them to buy medical marijuana at a limited number of dispensaries.

“It will really be devastating to the community, to patients and caregivers,” Scott said.

And, Scott believes, it will be financially devastating for him and Jody, who smoke marijuana throughout the day to ease chronic pain caused by vehicle and other accidents. He and Jody socked away his earnings as an iron worker, a Christmas bonus and tax returns to build their own grow room at a cost of about $5,000. Even though the room has doubled their utility bill to about $450 a month, they say it’s still cheaper than buying marijuana at a dispensary.

They also worry that dispensary-grown marijuana could contain pesticides that could harm them.

“It’s like groceries — it’s in the same genre,” Jody said. “If you’re able to grow your own tomatoes … and green beans, do it. With this 25-mile rule, they’re basically saying don’t grow your tomatoes, you have to go to the store. In this economy, it’s going to make it impossible for many people to get their medication.”

Law’s requirements

Voters in 2010 passed the measure to allow people with certain debilitating medical conditions, including chronic pain, cancer and muscle spasms, to use medical marijuana.

They must register with the state, which issues identification cards to qualified patients and caregivers. Caregivers can grow 12 plants for up to five patients.

Some caregivers can continue growing once the 25-mile rule takes effect, but only if their designated patients live 25 miles or more from a dispensary.

The state has given about 29,500 people permission to use medical marijuana; it has given about 85 percent of those patients permission to grow their own until the 25-mile rule takes effect.

Under the law, state health officials can license up to 126 dispensaries throughout designated areas statewide. Health officials received 486 dispensary applications from individuals or businesses that want to set up shop in 99 of the 126 areas.

The state will select the winning applicants today by lottery.

There is no limit to how much marijuana a dispensary can grow. Patients can obtain up to 21/2 ounces of medical marijuana every two weeks.

ADHS Director Will Humble expects some dispensaries could be operating as early as September.

Medical-marijuana advocates are criticizing Humble’s decision to interpret the 25-mile rule “as the crow flies” rather than measuring mileage on a grid.

Lisa Hauser, an attorney who helped draft the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and Andrew Meyers, campaign manager for the organization that got the program on the ballot, said Humble is accurately interpreting the intent of the 25-mile rule.

Hauser and Meyers said the law was designed to limit urban marijuana cultivation as a way to address law enforcement’s concerns of home invasions and fire risks caused by dangerous wiring for lamps and other growing equipment.

Both expected the dispensaries to be operating shortly after the voters passed the law. Instead, the dispensaries were delayed after Gov. Jan Brewer in May 2011 asked a federal judge to determine whether the state law conflicted with federal drug statutes.

Eight months later, a judge dismissed the state’s lawsuit.

The decision cleared the way for state health officials to begin the process of licensing medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Meyers pointed out that the campaign urged people to work through caregivers rather than investing thousands of dollars on outfitting grow spaces in spare bedrooms and garages that would have to be shut down when the dispensaries opened.

“Having individuals grow their own or set up their own little unsecured farming operations is a tad risky,” Hauser said. “But also, it was not to be the default method of obtaining medicine — it was to be grow-your-own only in these limited circumstances.”

A spokesman for Phoenix Police Department said it will investigate and enforce the law if home growers illegally grow marijuana once dispensaries are running.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who has urged Brewer to halt licensing of dispensaries because marijuana is illegal under federal law, also said her agency will prosecute those who don’t comply with the 25-mile rule.

“They would be committing a felony,” she said. “And it will be treated like any other drug investigation.”

Polk and 12 of the state’s 15 county attorneys are fighting the marijuana law and sought a legal opinion from Attorney General Tom Horne as to whether the state law is pre-empted by federal law.

Horne on Monday issued an opinion that the law’s provisions “authorizing any cultivating, selling and dispensing of marijuana” are pre-empted but that issuing registry cards to patients and caregivers is not. He advised the ADHS that it could go forward with the lottery, saying that a dispensary-registration certificate does not give authorization and that applicants still must go through additional processes.

But he suggested dispensary-lottery winners consider delaying work or investment in a dispensary until the courts weigh in.

Requirement impacts

Caterer Ellen Bridgewater, 52, began growing marijuana at Compassion First Caregivers Circle Inc., a warehouse-size cultivation center in north Phoenix.

The Scottsdale resident and her husband grow for five patients who have cancer, arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Bridgewater obtained patient and grow cards several months ago to help treat Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowl disease. She tends to the plants, plays jazz to help them grow and regularly meets with patients to give them their medicine.

Bridgewater applied to run a dispensary, saying she wants to continue to provide medical marijuana at a low cost.

“I’m very apprehensive about the rule,” she said. “You want people to have easy access to their medicine, and 25 miles is a long way for some people to go.”

In anticipation of dispensaries opening, businesses that cater to medical- marijuana growers like weGrow in west Phoenix are shifting their business models away from home growers to focus on dispensaries.

The hydroponics superstore targeted much of its outreach to individuals, store owner Sunny Singh said.

The store sells lamps, nutrients, growing advice and other marijuana-related products.

Singh said many of his customers are asking questions about the 25-mile rule and are concerned dispensary-grown marijuana will be too expensive.

“They don’t want to spend top money for medicine if they don’t know what the quality is,” he said. “If they’re growing at home, they don’t have a quality issue.”

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AZ Dispensary Permit Applications Boom; State Revenue Over $2 Million

After a slow start with only 15 applications turned in on the first day, the Arizona dispensary permit applications have poured in.  By last Friday’s deadline, 484 applications were completed and sent to the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS).

Each application consisted of a business plan, an inventory control plan, and a $5000 application fee. The 385-or-so applicants who will not receive permits will be refunded $1000 of their fee, resulting in huge revenue for the state. It was initially estimated that Arizona would make around $1 million from applications, but we estimate that around $2,035,000 will be brought in assuming that one dispensary opens in each of the 99 districts that applied.

This incredible turnout for the chance to supply Arizona’s medical marijuana patients – nearly 29,000 of them – with their medicine marks the state’s turn towards accepting medical marijuana use. This DHS map displays the areas represented by applicants with Estrella topping the list at 16 applications.

On Friday, a hearing was held to expand the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be a treatment. The law that passed two years ago already permits medical marijuana use for cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, chronic pain, muscle spasms and hepatitis C. Other conditions being considered are PTSD, migraines, depression, and general anxiety disorder. Says DHS Director Will Humble, “I’m OK with including other conditions. I just want that decision to be based on science.”

In order to meet the May 25 deadline, some applications may have been incomplete. Next month, potential dispensaries will receive applications back to revise if they are missing any information to give every applicant a fair chance of getting chosen. For those areas where more than one eligible applicant has filed, a random drawing will determine who gets the permit.

If your application is returned to you for revision, weGrow can help. We offer a range of plans required by the AZDHS including:

Inventory Control Plan

Qualifying Patient Record Keeping Plan

Security Plan

Patient Education and Support Plan

Business Plan

These plans are available for a special price to allow you to be considered for your dispensary permit. Save $600 by bundling all 5 for $4000. For more information on completing your order, email info@wegrowstore.com. Or, if you would like to purchase plans individually, visit dispensarypermits.com.  Non-Arizona specific plans are also available.

Good luck to all who applied and watch our blog for news on the dispensary permit process.

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AZ Dispensary Permit Applications Due Friday

Last week, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) began accepting applications for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries.  15 applications were received on the first day, and dozens more are expected to come in by the end of the week.

The fact that Arizona is able to offer permits comes after a surprising turn of events last year after Gov. Jan Brewer banned this very application process. In 2010, voters approved the Medical Marijuana Act, but Brewer attempted to keep it from going into effect. According to MMJ Business Daily, “Brewer delayed the start of the licensing program for cannabis dispensaries last spring, citing her fear that state employees would be prosecuted by federal agents. She ordered the state to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government, asking for clarification on the issue.”

A judge later ruled that Brewer’s efforts were illegal and ordered the state to implement the act – without the many proposed restrictions. This week, dispensaries are finally able to apply to sell to the 35,000 MMJ patients.  The act allows up to 126 dispensaries to operate in Arizona.

The information on application requirements can be found on the ADHS website. There is a $5000 application fee, and $1000 will be returned to those who are not accepted. Among other requirements, dispensaries must employ a physician as a medical director to help oversee operations and fingerprints must be turned in.

Applications will be reviewed for content in June to allow potential dispensaries to provide additional information if needed. Certificates are set to be awarded in early August, allowing patients to receive medication as early as September. The cut-off for applications is at 5PM this Friday, May 25.

weGrow offers plans for dispensaries and cultivation including business, operations, and financial plans. More information on all the plans we offer can be found at dispensarypermits.com.

Medical Marijuana News Around the US

Recently, the President tried to defend the recent crackdown on the medical marijuana industry, including raids of legitimate businesses without explanation. While medical marijuana-sympathetic voters generally choose a democratic candidate, voters are now conflicted over who to vote for. Romney has strongly opposed legalization, and the only candidate who supports legalization is Ron Paul, who is trailing Romney badly in the polls. Meanwhile, state governments are dealing with their own legislation debates:

Colorado Asks Obama to Protect Jobs

Last week, President Obama visited the University of Colorado to reach out to younger voters, and cannabis activists took the opportunity to speak out against the recent government intervention in the MMJ industry.  In a press release, it was stated that the U.S. Attorney’s plan to target nearly 200 medical marijuana businesses would result in over 1,000 jobs being lost in the wake of a recession. Meanwhile, three Boulder dispensaries are shutting down this week after the government gave them an ultimatum of moving locations by May 7 or closing.

Hawaii Sees a Spike in MMJ Patients

Since last summer, the number of Hawaii residents with medical marijuana cards has grown by about 7,600 patients – 27% lift in nine months. Hawaiians with MMJ cards are allowed to use, possess, and grow limited amounts of cannabis, but dispensaries are not allowed to operate. This boost in numbers could help pass legislation allowing dispensary operation and in the meantime it will help the businesses of doctors, lawyers, and those who sell cultivation equipment.

New Hampshire and Connecticut Pass MMJ Legislation

The New England states still face opposition to the bills. New Hampshire’s governor stated that he would veto the bill, but there’s still hope for it yet – only 3 of the 11 Senators opposed the bill, and it is rumored that at least two would change their votes, effectively overriding the veto.  In Connecticut, however, the bill is moving to the Senate and their governor has already stated that he supports MMJ and is more likely to not veto the bill.

Connecticut Passes MMJ Bill

A Connecticut bill allowing medical marijuana use has been passed by Congress and is in the hands of state Governor Malloy, who says he plans to pass the bill. The bill contains some of the country’s strictest regulations for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana to try to bypass some of the problems the other 16 states face in legalization. A registry of patients will be established as well as a list of diseases approved to use the drug.

Be sure to find out what the status of legalization is in your state as well as which candidates support medical marijuana use and dispensaries.