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Inside Arizona Politics: Health Department officials ready to get medical marijuana program in place
PHOENIX - Will Humble, who runs the state Department of Health Services, is ready to put the state’s recently voter-approved medical marijuana program in place and get back to his normal work.
On March 31, his department will release all the rules governing Arizona’s medical marijuana program. On April 15, patients will be able to begin having medical pot recommendations certified, and on May 1, hopeful dispensary owners will be able to submit their applications for dispensary and cultivation operation licenses.
As Humble puts it, “It’s crunch time,” and the pressure is high to get the rules right. Humble said he hopes that Arizona’s medical marijuana program will achieve a couple major goals, not the least of which is ensuring that legitimate patients will have access to pot and that recreational users will be kept out of the system.
Then he and his department can go back to worrying about all the other duties the Health Department normally is responsible for.
Interest in what the final rules will look like has been high since the November passage of Prop. 203. From potential patients and dispensary owners to those who think medical marijuana is a black mark on the state, the Health Department has been inundated with more than 3,000 comments on two drafts of the rule package, released in December and January.
Humble said it’s been a challenge to try to accommodate those who will be served by the medical marijuana program, as well as those who have opposed it, but he feels the final rules will ultimately lay the groundwork for the sort of system he’s hoping to achieve. Recently, he outlined one of the key changes to expect in the final rules that will be released March 31.
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