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Arizona

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director May 14, 2015

    It is hardly a secret to any long observing advocate for cannabis law reform to recognize early on in their efforts to end cannabis prohibition that if it were not for government–federal, state and local governments–spending, there would be relatively few examples of private money being employed in the last forty-five years to try to maintain the status quo of cannabis prohibition.norml_remember_prohibition2

    The tens of billions spent annually to keep the Reefer Madness going in America largely is taxpayer-funded bureaucracies such as the so-called drug czar’s office, DEA, NIDA, SAMHSA, DARE, PDFAblahblahblah.

    Even in the face of this tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars annually, still, a majority of the US public rejects the policy of cannabis prohibition.

    Unbelievably, the drug czar’s office actually mandates that the office must use tax funding to publicly oppose cannabis legalization efforts–even though such is no longer a popularly supported public policy.

    Add one more prime example of cannabis prohibitionists in government not yielding to the will of voters, and worse, rather than pool their own private funding to advance their no-longer-popular-views, they want the taxpayers to pick up the bill of their anti-cannabis advocacy.

    Arizona voters approved a medical cannabis initiative in 2010. Many in the law enforcement community in the state, including prosecutors, have consistently opposed implementing the change of policies and/or still harass medical cannabis producers or patients.

    They’re sore losers.

    Now, consistent with large swaths of the country, Arizona voters are organizing once again in the state to place a full cannabis legalization initiative on the ballot for 2016.

    What is the reaction from some in the law enforcement community in Arizona to the prospects of citizens again instructing their workers what public policies they want them to enforce?

    Sure, law enforcement personnel are citizens too, and their opinions are as meaningful as any other citizens’, however, law enforcement personnel who oppose the public’s will on changes of public policy should never employ taxpayer funding to try to sway the populace or propagandize–on matters ranging from police wearing body cameras, to forfeiture reform to cannabis legalization.

    Well that is not at all happening currently in Yavapai County Arizona, where the local prosecutor Shelia Polk thinks it wise and prudent to steer forfeiture money derived from the criminal justice system (with most of the proceeds coming to law enforcement from currently illegal drug profits seized in previous criminal filings) to propagandize to voters that they should not vote to end cannabis prohibition in the state.

    Ever hear law enforcement roll out the tired ol’ line of “we don’t make the laws, we only enforce them?”

    It’s largely a lie (I mean…prevarication).

    Police and prosecutors (aided and abetted by fellow pot prohibitionists wearing white coats at NIDA, for example) regularly, using taxpayers’ money, actively seek to influence the outcome of public policy legislation, court cases and voter initiatives that seek to reform cannabis laws.

    It is pretty simple at this point in the now five-decade-old public effort to end cannabis prohibition, if police and prosecutors want to defend the status quo of a failed and unpopular public policy, then, if they really cared about the issue, they’d put their own skin in the game by organizing as private citizens.

    If prosecutors, cops, narcs, sheriffs and chiefs of police want to pony up their own money to try to stave off cannabis prohibition ending in their lifetimes–go for it.

    Reformers will more than match them dollar-for-dollar and are always spoiling for a good debate about wisdom for rationale continuing cannabis prohibition…and we’ve got the public on our side, they no longer do.

    What can not and should not happen anymore in the modern public policy debate about whether America should or should not continue another nearly eighty-years with cannabis prohibition enforcement are government officials and law enforcement personnel using their power of the purse and bully pulpit to try to persuade voters on ANY matters of public policy–let alone on policies where conflicts of interest are as obvious as prosecutors using government money to oppose the will of local voters who’re seeking to reform unpopular laws.

    Cannabis law reformers can and will win a fair fight on cannabis legalization, but, the impending political victory will be delayed if government officials are permitted to continue to use taxpayer funding to oppose the very will of the voters.

    Government for and by the people? Not when government officials are sore losers and want to use government funding to try to tip the scales of public opinion.

    When government stops spending taxpayer dollars to keep cannabis prohibition going, the unpopular policy will die an ignominious and swift death.

    Editor’s note: Thankfully, late yesterday AZ’s Attorney General came to reconsider this blundering policy of allowing government funding to be used to campaign against cannabis legalization efforts in the state.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director May 14, 2013

    Recent nationwide polls have shown that a majority of all Americans support marijuana legalization. Survey data released this week by Behavior Research Center shows even stronger support at the state level in Arizona.

    Behavior Research Center asked respondents whether or not they favored or opposed legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, 56% responded they favored the idea and only 37% were opposed. Marijuana legalization had support from all age groups, across all counties and with both Democrats and Independents.

    Commenting on the results, Behavior Research Center stated: “It is perhaps ironic that as support for same-sex marriage and defelonization of marijuana have long been albatrosses which conservative candidates could hang around the necks of some of their moderate or liberal challengers, it now appears that hard opposition to gay marriage and perhaps even to marijuana liberalization could become issues moderates and liberals can use against their conservative opponents.”

    You can view the full results of the poll here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 14, 2013

    A poll released today, commissioned by the National Cannabis Industry Association and conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that a majority of Arizona residents would vote “yes” on an initiative to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.

    When asked, “If an initiative appeared on a future ballot in Arizona, proposing that marijuana be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol and sold to adults 21 years of age or older in statelicensed stores, would you vote ‘yes’ in favor of this initiative or ‘no’ against this initiative?” – 59% stated they would vote “yes” (40% felt strongly, 19% not strongly) and only 36% stated they would oppose the measure (33% strongly feeling so, 3% not so strongly).

    The survey also questioned Arizona voters on their current medical marijuana law and found 59% of respondents support the law and only 37% are opposed.

    The poll was conducted on January 9th and 10th and surveyed 600 Arizona voters. You can view the full poll here and read the official release from The National Cannabis Industry Association here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 18, 2012

    A 2010 voter-approved Arizona state law authorizing “the local cultivation, sale, and use, of medical marijuana” is not preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act, according to the Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County.

    The ruling, issued earlier this month by Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon, allows for the establishment of state-licensed medicinal cannabis dispensaries within Arizona — the first of which opened its doors last week. State-licensed medical marijuana facilities now operate in several states, including Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Maine.

    A majority of Arizona voters approved the AMMA in 2010. Under the law, qualified patients may possess and, depending on where they reside, cultivate cannabis. The program also mandates the state to license citizens to form not-for-profit dispensaries to grow and dispense cannabis. AMMA requires that each of the state’s 126 Community Health Care Analysis Areas permit at least one dispensary operator. Maricopa County’s prosecutor sought to block the establishment of local dispensaries by claiming that AMMA was preempted by federal anti-drug laws.

    Writing for the Court in White Mountain Health Center, Inc. v. Maricopa County, Judge Gordon declared that nothing in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act circumvents federal law since Justice Department officials, if they wished to do so, could still continue to locally enforce the Controlled Substances Act. “No one can argue that the federal government’s ability to enforce the CSA is impaired to the slightest degree [by Arizona’s medical marijuana law],” Gordon opined, adding that the new law “affirmatively provides a roadmap for federal enforcement of the CSA, if they so wished to” since the statute requires patients and proprietors to register their activities with the state.

    Judge Gordon further suggested that Arizona’s law did not conflict with the federal lawmakers’ intentions when they enacted the federal Controlled Substances Act. He declared, “Instead of frustrating the CSA’s purpose, it is sensible to argue that the AMMA furthers the CSA’s objectives in combating drug abuse and the illegitimate trafficking of controlled substances.”

    He concluded: “The Court rejects … arguments that the [law] violates public policy simply because marijuana use and possession violate federal law. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation permitting the use of marijuana in whole or in part. The Court will not rule that Arizona, having sided with the ever-growing minority of States, and having limited it to medical use, has violated public policy.”

    Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is appealing Judge Gordon’s ruling.

    Arizona regulations regarding patient access and dispensary operations is available from the Arizona Department of Health Services here.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director May 25, 2012

    May 25, 2012

    Dear NORML supporters in AZ,

    Good news!

    The Arizona Department of Health Services (azdhs.gov) who administers the medical cannabis program is apparently soliciting information on peer-reviewed research for the efficacious use of cannabis for four new conditions for consideration of including on the list of conditions acceptable for use under the official program.

    Those four conditions under consideration are:

    *Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    *Migraines

    *Depression

    *Generalized Anxiety Order

    The administrator, Will Humble, posted to the AZDHS blog on May 24th, 2012 that on “Friday afternoon” (May 25th), they are soliciting public comments both in person and online.

    The link to the blog post of May 24th:

    http://directorsblog.health.azdhs.gov/?p=2638

    The link to what Mr. Humble calls the “online comment tool” is:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VFSKND7

    Below is a news article from AZ affirming this effort that pushed on the wires late last night.**

    Medical cannabis patients in a number of other states have been able to expand the scope of these medical cannabis programs, but only with active participation in the political process.

    If you, a loved one or friend in AZ suffers from PTSD, migraine headaches, depression or anxiety, please take the opportunity afforded right now by AZDHS to let your public officials know that you support these pragmatic improvements to AZ’s nascent medical cannabis program.

    Kind regards and thanks for your help and support,

    -Allen St. Pierre
    Executive Director
    NORML
    Washington, D.C.
    director@norml.org

    **Mojave Daily News

    Arizona considering new uses for medical marijuana

    Published: Friday, May 25, 2012 1:12 AM MDT

    PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona is considering requests to expand its fledgling medical marijuana program to allow use of the drug for an array of conditions, including post-traumatic stress syndrome and migraines, beyond those allowed under the law approved by voters two years ago.

    The Department of Health Services, which is required under the 2010 law to consider requests to expand coverage, holds a public hearing Friday on the first batch of requests.

    Besides PTSD and migraines, the requests for covered conditions include depression and general anxiety disorder. The law already permits medical marijuana use for such medical reasons as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, chronic pain, muscle spasms and hepatitis C.

    Even as the state considers expanding the program, it is still implementing a key part of the law.

    Friday is the deadline to submit applications to operate medical marijuana dispensaries. Up to 126 dispensaries will be permitted statewide, but only one per designated area. Those typically are either rural towns or parts of metropolitan areas.

    The process of awarding licenses to dispensaries that will sell marijuana to users was delayed by Gov. Jan Brewer’s reluctance to implement that part of the law.

    The state has awarded medical marijuana user cards to more than 28,000 people. Chronic pain is the most common medical condition, though users can have more than one. Most of the users also got permission to grow marijuana until there is a dispensary in their area.

    Arizona is among 17 states that have enacted laws allowing medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    States’ programs vary, and some already cover the additional medical conditions being considered by Arizona. For example, New Mexico allows medical marijuana use for PTSD, while California’s covered “serious medical conditions” include migraines. Meanwhile, Colorado’s decade-old program has denied petitions to add more than a dozen conditions, including PTSD, hepatitis C and depression.

    Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but the Veterans Affairs Department in 2011 issued guidelines that permit patients treated at VA hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal. The guidelines don’t allow VA doctors to prescribe medical marijuana.

    Consideration of possible expansion of Arizona’s medical marijuana program follows efforts by the state to crack down on early abuses.

    State medical regulatory boards already have disciplined doctors for failing to adequately consider patients’ needs and conditions before recommending medical marijuana.

    The state Medical Board in February reprimanded one physician who wrote certifications for 483 patients without making required checks of a controlled-substance database.

    The Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board suspended another doctor’s license for failing to adequately examine patients and document their conditions before certifying them for medical marijuana.

    In advance of Friday’s hearing, Health Services Director Will Humble said he is most interested in peer-reviewed scientific studies, not personal testimony.

    “To me, it’s really about presenting good science,” Humble said. “To me, that’s the compelling information that we need.”

    Humble’s department has contracted with the University of Arizona to identify research relevant to the requests for expanded coverage. “I’m not aware of very much published literature to support adding those,” he said.

    Humble said he feels a need to be cautious about adding conditions because he doesn’t want patients to forego traditional medical treatment to opt for questionable benefits from marijuana.

    And he said Arizona’s law doesn’t allow the agency to remove a condition once it’s listed, so it would be troubling if scientifically reliable information later surfaces that undermines the value of approving medical marijuana for a particular condition.

    Brewer last year balked at allowing dispensaries, saying she feared state employees could face federal criminal prosecution. She later acquiesced after a judge ruled the state had no discretion implementing the dispensary portion of the law.

    The state already had received about 200 dispensary applications through close-of-business Wednesday, and Humble said he expected many more before Friday’s deadline.

    Copyright © 2012 – Mohave Daily News

     

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