Pat Shannahan/The Republic Marijuana grower Steve Valdez takes Ross Smith through his varieties of marijuana plants at a Maraijuana Farmer's Market in Phoenix at weGrow Hydroponic Supplies Superstore. Growers were on hand to meet with medical marijuana patients.
The Arizona Department of Health Services will accept applications for medical-marijuana dispensaries through 5 p.m. May 25.
Under the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, the state can have 126 medical-marijuana dispensaries, but the application process had been stalled because of lawsuits and rule making.
Would-be marijuana-dispensary operators must pay a $5,000 fee. If they are not selected, the state will return $1,000, state health officials said. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and cannot be a law-enforcement officer or a physician who is currently writing certifications for patients. Applicants also cannot have certain felony convictions within the last 10 years. Applicants can operate up to five dispensaries.
The law limits the number of dispensaries that can operate geographically throughout the state, and if there are too many applications in any one area, health officials will award dispensary certifications through a lottery system.
State health officials expect to award dispensary certificates this summer.
If selected, the dispensaries can grow medical marijuana and acquire it from other registered non-profit dispensaries or from registered patients or caregivers.
Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble expects to award fewer than 110 applications, based on public interest so far, and likely between 70 or 80. He doesn't expect Native American tribes to apply for dispensary certificates, based on demographic data the state has collected showing little or no interest in the program.
That same data show that people of all ages and backgrounds -- including the elderly, Baby Boomers and 20- to 30-somethings -- use medical marijuana.
More than 22,200 people have received permission to smoke, eat or otherwise ingest marijuana to ease their ailments. Of those, nearly three-quarters are men, and nearly 85 percent of all patients have requested to grow their own.
Sunny Singh, owner of WeGrow Phoenix, helps medical-marijuana patients and caregivers grow marijuana to target certain ailments. Recently, he's been working with patients and caregivers to help them design grow rooms. He hopes to expand his business and contract with dispensaries.
"We want to change our focus to target the dispensary sites, but there's really been nowhere for us to go" since the dispensary-application process stalled, Singh said. "Being that there can be 126 dispensaries in Arizona, we think we'll be very successful."
by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez - May. 13, 2012 08:40 PM The Republic | azcentral.com
Applications for medical-marijuana sites open