Arizona medical marijuana laws have just changed. Senate Bill 1494 makes some significant changes to the state’s medical marijuana program:
Whether you are one of the nearly 200 000 patients who have been using cannabis for medical purposes for some time, or you’re just starting to figure out how to get a medical marijuana card, these changes are very good things for you…
First and foremost, because it will save you money when it comes to getting the medication you need. But secondly, the new law will mean changes in the testing procedures required of the dispensaries in the medical marijuana industry in Arizona.
This could mean safer, higher-quality medicinal cannabis for everyone…
Here’s everything you need to know:
What do Arizona medical marijuana laws currently say?
We already covered this in greater detail in our article how easy is it to get a medical card in Arizona? But here’s a brief recap:
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act of 2010 made the sale and use of cannabis for medical purposes legal in Arizona. The law, sometimes referred to as Proposition 203, did not legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Proposition 203 made it a requirement that you have two things in order to buy cannabis in the state:
- A medical marijuana card.
- At least one qualifying condition stated on your Medical Marijuana Physician Certification Form. This form must be signed by a qualified Medical Marijuana Doctor, such as a Medical Doctor or naturopath.
What conditions qualify me for a medical marijuana card?
Those qualifying conditions include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic pain, including arthritis
- Chronic diseases or conditions which lead to chronic conditions such as PTSD,
severe nausea, seizures, muscle spasms and wasting syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
What other restrictions are there?
In addition to requiring your card and permission from a physician, the state says you can:
- Only carry up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana on you at any time
- Not grow your own, unless you live 25 miles away from the nearest dispensary
- Not drive while under the influence of marijuana, even if you obtained it legally
- Not smoke marijuana in public, even if you obtained it legally
So what has changed about Arizona medical marijuana laws in 2019?
The new law – abbreviated to SB1494 – was signed into effect by Governor Doug Ducey back in June and comes into effect on 27 August 2019. It says:
- Arizona medical marijuana cards are now valid for two years instead of one – this potentially saves patients $150 every two years, plus whatever their medical marijuana doctor charges them for the visit (this can be as much as another $150).
- Arizona marijuana dispensaries must use a third-party laboratory to test their cannabis for toxins. This will come into effect on 1 November 2020.
- The ADHS (Arizona Department of Health Services) must create standards for those third-party laboratories. They will also begin charging those laboratories a $5000 application fee and $1000 renewal fee to operate. This is good for employees of the six or seven currently existing laboratories, who were operating in something of a legal gray area.
- The ADHS must now start issuing digital cards so it can start cutting down on the number of cards it prints. Patients will likely have some sort of e-card, though the details aren’t confirmed yet – even though this change must come in by 1 December. This should reduce the 2-3 day waiting period and mean that patients can’t be caught short by forgetting their card.
An important proviso is that if you have a current card, the date on it is not being extended by one year. Whatever date it has on it is still the date which you will need to go and renew your card. Only medical marijuana cards issued after the law goes into effect – again, that’s 27 August 2019 – will be valid for the next two years.
What effects will these medical marijuana laws changes have?
1) Halve the price of medical marijuana costs for most patients
For most patients, the legal cost of using medical marijuana – whether they usually pay the $150 annual fee or the half-price $75 fee if they are on SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, usually called food stamps) – will now be half what it has been.
2) Put fees in line with operation costs
The state medical marijuana program needs about $17 million annually to operate.
The former annual fees brought much more revenue than that. This led to the around $80 million which is currently sitting in a bank account with no purpose.
The new fees should match the requirements of running the program a little more closely.
3) Possible impact on naturopaths
Naturopaths are the type of health practitioner most commonly called upon to sign the Medical Marijuana Physician Certification forms. These forms are one of the two requirements of being able to legally use cannabis for medical purposes in Arizona.
This means that many naturopaths may see a loss of revenue. They charge patients for the service and patients will now need to visit them half as much.
4) May enable access to patients who were priced out
However, it has been suggested that the effectively halved costs of being able to legally use medical marijuana may enable more patients – people who had up until now been priced out of getting the medication they need – to start using the program.
This may at least partially offset the impact on naturopaths as they will potentially have more clients.
5) More transparency
While there have been very rare reports of mold being found in Arizona’s medical marijuana supply, there have been no major quality concerns in the more than eight years which the program has been running for.
However, except for those six or seven laboratories, testing to determine the actual quantities of THC, CBD and other medically beneficial cannabinoids in the cannabis plants, THC vape cartridges, cannabis vape oil and so on available in dispensaries has been entirely down to the dispensaries themselves.
Very soon though, patients will know the exact strength and quality of medical marijuana they are buying in Arizona. It’s a move which K.I.N.D. Concentrates, with our high-quality products such as K.I.N.D. Live Resin, welcomes.