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News (Media Awareness Project) - US AZ: Editorial: State Must Regain Control Of Medical Marijuana
Title:US AZ: Editorial: State Must Regain Control Of Medical Marijuana
Published On:2012-01-23
Source:Today's News-Herald (Lake Havasu City, AZ)
Fetched On:2012-01-26 06:00:40

The jury will be out for a long time on whether Arizona can develop a
world-best medical marijuana system, but at least two judges have
ruled that state government messed up the process.

When the second judicial ruling came last week, Gov. Jan Brewer had
already said the state would begin to accept and issue marijuana
dispensary licenses, a key component of the program approved by voters
in 2010. The second decision, from a Maricopa County Superior Court
Judge, said Brewer illegally delayed implementation of the law.

This is a controversial law. It was approved by the slimmest of
margins. Many believe it is a steppingstone law toward outright
legalization of the drug. In that context, opposition by Brewer and
many others is understandable.

What makes no sense, though, is implementing only a portion of the
law. Half-baked, so to speak, as the law is now, thousands of people
can legally possess and grow marijuana. Once dispensaries are
established, only those medical card holders who live more than 25
miles from a dispensary may grow their own.

But the decision to issue dispensary licenses is not the only hurdle
to implementing a law designed to be more restrictive and regulated
than other medical marijuana states.

A big part of the picture rests with physicians and their regulating
organizations. Medical regulators are already questioning the number
of marijuana recommendations written by a small number of physicians,
suggesting that quick clinic visits do not satisfy the letter of
Arizona's law.

Yet many mainstream physicians wrestle with the new law. First off,
there are no governmental purity standards for marijuana as exist for
FDA-approved drugs and interactions with prescription medications are
imprecisely known. Then there are the governmental hoops and at least
a thought that discipline awaits those who don't follow the rules precisely.

As of last week, a state House bill that authorizes health department
marijuana program officials to notify the physician licensing board
about physicians' marijuana recommendations cleared a committee.

Such provisions are already authorized, so the legislation only makes
a point to underscore that regulators are watching. This will dissuade
mainsteam physicians from recommending marijuana and improve business
for the marijuana clinics.

Voters approved a medical marijuana law for Arizona that is the
most-regulated in the country. With so many loose ends, the law is the
opposite of restrictive. It's time for the state to follow the letter
of the law and regain control of medical marijuana.
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