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News (Media Awareness Project) - US AZ: State Won't Appeal Ruling On Medical Pot Dispensaries
Title:US AZ: State Won't Appeal Ruling On Medical Pot Dispensaries
Published On:2012-01-24
Source:Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:01:00

Arizona officials will not appeal last week's judicial ruling that
the state must allow medical-marijuana dispensaries and cannot
restrict who operates them based on where they live or their financial history.

Judge Richard Gama's decision broadened the pool of potential
dispensary owners and cleared the way for the state's medical-pot
industry. The only remaining question was whether state officials
would challenge the ruling.

Will Humble, director of the state's health department, on Tuesday
said his department will begin accepting applications sometime this
year. The state anticipates licensing up to 125 dispensaries.

The state must still go through a rule-making process before it can
accept the applications.

Officials estimate the state could make applications available in
April with an expedited process, or as late as September if they must
go through the more typical, longer process.

Under the law, passed by voters in 2010, state workers issue ID cards
authorizing people with certain debilitating medical conditions to
use pot. Proposition 203 also requires state health officials to
license medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Health officials were set to accept dispensary applications last
June, but Gov. Jan Brewer sued in federal court, halting the process.
She sought a ruling over whether Arizona's law trumped federal drug
laws and, if not, whether state workers would be immune from federal
prosecution for implementing it.

A judge dismissed that lawsuit earlier this month, and Brewer said
she would allow the dispensary-permit process to begin. But, she said
she wouldn't allow the state to issue licenses until a lower-court
ruled on a separate lawsuit challenging regulations governing dispensaries.

That ruling by Gama came last week.

The judge threw out rules requiring dispensary applicants to be state
residents for three years and have no history or bankruptcy or
"government debts," such as unpaid child support, taxes or traffic tickets.

The remaining qualifications require that applicants not be convicted
felons, be at least 21 year old and comply with state law.

Also, people with 20 percent or more interest in a dispensary must be
listed as the applicant, principal or board member.
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