Restrictions high on medical marijuana dispensaries

Set-up costs could be more than $5,000

Courtesy<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The rules governing medical marijuana in Arizona will be stringent. The public can comment on them through February.

Courtesy<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The rules governing medical marijuana in Arizona will be stringent. The public can comment on them through February.

KINGMAN - Arizona residents interested in obtaining a medical marijuana card or opening a medical marijuana dispensary will find themselves digging deep into their pockets and poring over 47 pages of strict rules.

The Arizona Department of Health Services released a draft copy of the rules governing the certification of medical marijuana users, medical caregivers, dispensaries and dispensary agents on Dec. 17.

The department is currently seeking public comments on the draft rules. Comments can be left online at www.azdhs.gov/prop203/.

There will be two public comment periods, the first continues to Jan. 7, and the second comment period will start in February. The department has to have the rules in place by the end of March.

Getting the card

According to the new rules, it will cost $5,000 to register a dispensary with the department, $150 for a patient to get a medical marijuana card and $200 for a caregiver or dispensary agent to get a card.

In order for an individual to get a medical marijuana card, they will first have to have a qualifying illness that has been diagnosed by a physician and a written statement from their primary care physician stating they have a qualifying condition.

Qualifying conditions include: cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease or a chronic disease that causes any of the following: wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain,

severe nausea, seizures, or severe or persistent muscle spasms.

The doctor's statement must also include the doctor's name, license number, office address, phone number, e-mail, the patient's name and date of birth, and identification of the qualifying disease. The doctor must also state that he has seen the patient for at least a year, the patient has visited the doctor at least four times for the condition and that the doctor plans to continue to treat the patient for the condition.

The doctor must also review all other prescriptions that the patient is taking for possible interactions with marijuana, explain the potential risks and benefits to taking marijuana, and state that the patient will receive a therapeutic benefit from taking marijuana.

Besides the doctor's note, the patient must submit his name, date of birth, gender, address, county where they live, whether the patient is asking to cultivate as well as use marijuana, an e-mail address, a copy of a state ID or U.S. passport and a current photograph. The patient must also sign a statement saying he will not divert medical marijuana to another person who is not allowed to possess or use the drug.

Caregivers and dispensary agents must go through a similar registration process. Caregivers must provide information on the patient they are caring for, pass a background check and sign a statement saying they will not give the drug to anyone who does not have a marijuana card. Dispensary agents must also provide personal information, pass a background check and sign a statement.

Keeping the card

According to the department's rules, marijuana cannot be used in a public place. It does not include nursing care institutions, hospices, assisted-living centers, adult daycare homes or private homes.

A personal marijuana card can be denied, voided or revoked if a patient fails to meet any of the requirements, no longer has a qualifying condition, fails to follow state laws governing the use of medical marijuana, gives medical marijuana to someone who is not registered to use it or has provided false information to the department.

A caregiver's or dispensary agent's card can be denied, revoked or voided if they fail to meet any of the requirements, follow state laws, are convicted of a felony, give medical marijuana to someone who does not have a registration card or provide false information to the department.

The department must provide a written explanation as to why the card was denied, revoked or voided. Patients, caregivers and dispensary agents must notify the department if they move or their name changes. It costs $10 to change or amend a card.

Patients, caregivers and dispensary agents must submit all paperwork for the renewal of their card at least 30 days before the card expires. It costs the same to renew a card as it does to register for a card.

Dispensary

registration

In order to apply for a dispensary permit, each principal officer or board member of the dispensary must currently be an Arizona resident and must have been a resident of Arizona for the last two years. The dispensary applicant must submit the following information to the department: the name and address of the dispensary and its cultivation site; the name of the person applying; the name of the person who will submit information on people applying for agent applications from the dispensary; the name, address and date of birth of each principal officer, board member and agent of the dispensary; whether any principal officer or board member has served at a dispensary that had its certificate revoked; and whether any of the members is a physician making recommendations for medical marijuana.

Each member of the dispensary must also provide information about whether they have not provided a bond or filed any tax returns, have unpaid taxes, have an unpaid judgment due to a government agency, have defaulted on a student loan, have failed to pay child support, or are a law enforcement officer or an employee or contractor of the Arizona Department of Health Services, or whether they have been convicted of a felony. The applicant must also submit their fingerprints and a copy of state ID or other form of ID.

The dispensary must also provide a copy of their policies governing inventory control, patient recordkeeping, security and patient education. It must also submit the dispensary's bylaws governing the use of revenue for the facility and a business plan, as well as the operating hours. All dispensaries must be non-profits.

They must also provide a certificate of occupancy from a local jurisdiction and a sworn statement saying the dispensary is in compliance with local zoning regulations.

It must also submit the dispensary's and its cultivation site's distance to the closest school and a site and floor plan of both the dispensary and its cultivation site. Dispensaries must be at least 500 feet from the nearest school.

The site and floor plans must detail the layout, dimensions, name and function of each room; the location of each hand washing sink; the location of each toilet room; the means of egress; the location of each video camera and panic button; and the location of natural and artificial lighting sources.

The dispensary must also provide a secure facility to sell and grow its marijuana. The cultivation site and dispensary must have video cameras inside and outside of the facility, a video system capable of recording events and printing still photos and storing video for at least 30 days, and have the ability to be monitored remotely.

They must also provide the name and license number of the dispensary's medical director.

A dispensing certificate can be denied, revoked or voided if a dispensary or any of its owners fails to meet any of the requirements.

The department must be notified and approve of any actions to move the dispensary or its cultivation site to a new location. It costs $2,500 to move a dispensary or cultivation site.

Dispensing

marijuana

In order to dispense marijuana, the dispensary has to use a state electronic verification system, verify the identity of the patient or caregiver and determine that the patient or caregiver is not exceeding the limit of 2.5 ounces within 14 calendar days.

The dispensary must also keep a record of the amount of marijuana dispensed, who it was dispensed to and when it was dispensed. The marijuana must also be labeled with the dispensary's identification number, type of marijuana, whether it was grown by the dispensary or by another, the date it was harvested and a list of all the chemicals used to produce the drug,

The dispensary has to cultivate at least 70 percent of the marijuana it sells. It can sell no more than 30 percent of what it cultivates to other dispensaries. It can only acquire marijuana from Arizona dispensaries or patients.

The dispensary must also keep a record of its inventory including how much marijuana it grew, harvested, and purchased from or provided to other dispensaries or patients; what strains of marijuana it grew or acquired; and when those actions were taken. The dispensary must audit its inventory every 30 days.

The dispensary must also submit to regular inspections by the Department of Health Services.

All records must be kept for at least five years. The dispensary has 20 days to correct any problems found during the inspection.