Arizona Works to Get Marijuana Dispensaries Up and Running
The Arizona Department of Health Services says that they’re continuing to work to get marijuana dispensaries up and running in the state as quickly as possible. Legal challenges briefly delayed the Department’s roll out of rules for selecting and prioritizing dispensary applicants. The Department has decided not to appeal a court decision striking down some parts of their proposed selection criteria. The decision not to appeal allows the Department to continue to move forward in the licensing process as it works to implement the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
Specifically, the court struck down regulations that allowed the Department to refuse applications from people who have not been an Arizona resident for at least three years. They also can’t refuse an applicant based on previous business or personal bankruptcies. They can’t refuse applicants because they’re not current on child support payments.
The court said that these regulations change the original law too much to be acceptable. Now that the matter is settled, the Department plans to begin accepting dispensary applications. They say that it takes up to forty-five days to make a decision about an application, so dispensaries can have licenses by mid summer and start operating shortly after that.
Even though the Arizona courts struck down parts of the Department’s proposed application process, dispensary applicants still need to show plans for medical oversight, patient access to information, a business plan and a statement from a local authority that the proposed dispensary complies with zoning rules. Authorities still hope that the licensing process works to spread dispensaries in the state in a way that meets patient need and demand. That is, they hope to approve dispensaries in both rural and urban areas.
The Department keeps statistical information for current medical marijuana patients. This information has helped the state track how many patients there are and where they live. The Department publishes this information in a monthly report. The state hopes that this statistical information can help the state make informed decisions about licensing decisions in an effort to keep patients throughout the state supplied with marijuana.