Arizona Already Pulling the Medical Marijuana Cards of Violators
Health officials in Arizona say they have already revoked the medical marijuana cards from two patients in the state and they are ready to revoke more than a dozen more from people they say are violating the AZ medical marijuana law.
Typically, officials said, cards are revoked if a law-enforcement agency notifies health officials of an arrest tied to buying or selling medical marijuana, which is illegal. The law does not allow the sale of marijuana to patients outside of dispensaries, which have yet to open in Arizona. Instead, patients can only give marijuana to each other, receiving nothing of value in return. Or, health officials said, cards can be revoked if patients fail to properly secure plants in a locked facility.
Tom Salow, a rules administrator for ADHS, said some caregivers could soon lose their marijuana cards, too, because they either did not disclose a violent-crime history on their applications or they have violated certain drug laws.
He said the agency has fallen behind in revoking the cards because officials have to research applicants’ backgrounds and issue the cards in a short time.
“(The law) doesn’t give us enough time to get background checks from the Department of Public Safety and make a decision on the application in enough time,” Salow said. “We approve the applications, give them a card, and if it comes back with a hit after research … and a decision to revoke is made, then we revoke. It takes us a little while — it isn’t as easy as we thought it would be.”
While medical marijuana laws are great and represent progress, at some point a non-toxic plant like cannabis should not have all these rules and hoops to jump through while much more dangerous substances are easier to get.
Medical Marijuana Businesswomen to Call on President Obama to Halt MMJ Crackdown
On Thursday, September 13th, the National Cannabis Industry Association, in conjunction with the Women's CannaBusiness Network will hold a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. At the event, female business leaders from the medical cannabis industry will call on President Obama to stop enforcement actions against medical cannabis providers while the administration reviews its policies to determine whether they are in the public interest. The women will explain the hardships caused by the federal government's ongoing crackdown on legitimate medical cannabis businesses.
"In the last year alone, the Department of Justice has taken action against hundreds of medical cannabis providers, including a large percentage who were acting in full compliance with state and local laws," said NCIA executive director, Aaron Smith. "It is painfully obvious that the Department of Justice is not following the administration's stated policy of respecting state medical marijuana laws."
In what is by some measures the worst economic recovery in U.S. history, those who run businesses can’t see the logic in the federal medical marijuana crackdown and its resulting economic effects.
The group will also release a report entitled, "The Colorado Cannabis Industry: A Tale of Ten Cities," which details the sales and tax revenues generated by medical marijuana centers in ten Colorado cities. These ten cities alone, generated close to $10 million in state and local sales taxes in 2011. Representatives from businesses that produced this revenue, but are now suffering due to the Obama administration actions, will speak.
Who: Female business owners and medical cannabis industry employees
Where: National Press Club (in the Fourth Estate Room), 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC
When: Thursday, September 13 at 9:30 a.m.
All government efforts at this point should be directed toward fostering job growth, not finding reasons to shut down businesses.
Former Oregon Corrections Counselor on Voting Yes on Measure 80
Shelley Fox-Loken used to be a corrections counselor in Oregon and is now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (http://leap.cc), an organization that advocates for an end to prohibition and is made up of former and current law enforcement officials.
She recently wrote an op-ed piece for OregonLive.com in which she spells out the reasons for voting for Measure 80, a measure to legalize and regulate marijuana in the state.
“I went into criminal justice because I wanted to serve the public,” she writes. “As a corrections official, I thought that by working with inmates I'd be able to help them reintegrate into society, making their lives better and our community safer. I quickly became disillusioned with that noble idea, however, as I saw that rehabilitation, once the overarching goal of the penal system, was increasingly impeded as Oregon's prisons were overrun with people whose only crimes were drug-related.
“Prison used to be reserved for those who committed what we think of when we hear the word ‘crime’ -- murderers, rapists, thieves. But increasingly during the past 40 years, drug users and low-level dealers who've committed no offense other than succumbing to the medical problem of substance abuse have been joining those ranks. In order to prosecute those committing these consensual crimes, we're using resources -- police time, court time, jail beds -- that could be better spent going after those whose victims are all too real.
“Measure 80, the initiative on Oregon's ballot this November that would regulate marijuana like alcohol, doesn't solve that problem entirely, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
“Not only would regulating marijuana free up law enforcement resources to go after the real criminals in society, it would increase public safety in other ways. Right now, the marijuana trade is largely controlled by large and dangerous international drug cartels drawn to the industry because of the huge profits available. Many of these cartels are in Mexico -- which by some estimates has lost 60,000 people to drug war-related violence since 2006 -- although the U.S. Justice Department reports that Mexican cartels are now operating in more than 1,000 U.S. cities.”
Time will tell what happens in Oregon, but one thing is for sure: legalization gains momentum every day.
No Right to Medical Marijuana, Says Montana Supreme Court
Medical Marijuana Fees to Aid Program in Arizona
The Arizona Department of Health Services will soon spend more than $1.2 million from medical marijuana fees to weed out physicians who improperly recommend marijuana to patients, help train marijuana-dispensary staff, hire private accountants or auditors to examine dispensary financial statements, and hire private attorneys to assist the department with legal issues arising from the program.
The Department will also continue to fund a $200,000 contract with the University of Arizona College of Public Health to, in part, review published research about the effectiveness of marijuana in treating medical conditions.
ADHS Director Will Humble said it will all help health officials keep the program as “medical” as possible.
“I’m trying to hit this from the financial angle, the medical angle, the certification angle to try to close as many gaps as I can that could result in bad outcomes for patients,” he said. “That means bringing in expertise that we don’t have in-house.”
Arizona has collected about $9.3 million in fees from cardholders and dispensary applicants since the program began last year. Officials have spent about $2.5 million on staff, its contract with the University of Arizona and technology. About $6 million remains in the medical-marijuana fee coffers.
But some think the fees should not be spent in this manner, like Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, who said she is unaware of any other states using fees in this manner.
She said patients, many of whom are poor, should not have to subsidize state programs to pay for their medicine. “They’re already in a financial hardship, they’re already suffering from some kind of ailment.”
Be that as it may, rest assured that state officials in Arizona will continue on as they are. It’s ironic that it will finally be tax and fee money that brings about legalization; governments can’t resist sucking up money like a Dyson, and will eventually get the $ they feel they deserve.
Boulder, Colorado Medical Marijuana Industry Decimated by New Regulations
Back in 2010 – when the city of Boulder, Colorado began setting up regulations for medical marijuana businesses – there were already about 200 businesses operating within the medical cannabis industry. In November of 2010, 119 businesses applied for licenses with the city.
Fast forward to today, where strict regulations within the city have left 26 dispensaries and 32 grow operations left functioning. In March there were 32 dispensaries in Boulder, which means closures continue.
Although regulations and background checks are meant to “weed out” bad operators, some say things are too strict and good operators are being squeezed out as well.
"It's like one strike and you're done," said Diane Czarkowski, one of the founders of Boulder Kind Care, the first Boulder dispensary to receive a business license from the city.
Tired of dealing with regulations, Czarkowski -- who describes herself as "more of a vision person" -- sold her shares and got out of the pot business in March, though she still works as a consultant and advocate.
Is it a good thing if successful businesspeople get so fed up that they get out of their chosen industry? Not in the least.
"I have never heard that or gotten the impression that that's what [city] council wanted," Senior Assistant City Attorney Kathy Haddock said of limiting the number of dispensaries. "I do think they want businesses that follow the rules and that's important."
But what happens if the rules are so strict that they destroy businesses and jobs? It’s unlikely that was the goal of the city council either.
But some, like Travis Howard, a business attorney who also owns a dispensary in Boulder, said Boulder's high standards have an upside, creating a model for others.
"I'm appreciative that Boulder has given us an opportunity," Howard said. "It's being executed professionally. I feel like I have a fair shake in Boulder, and not all of my colleagues around the state feel that way."
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