Proposal suggests 126 areas for Arizona pot dispensaries

The state health department today released its second draft of medical-marijuana rules, which propose a process for selecting and distributing dispensaries and reduces up-front costs for dispensary applicants.

The new proposal suggests distributing one dispensary to each Community Health Analysis Area, which divides the state based on geography and population. There are 126 of these areas in the state, close to the number of dispensaries allowed.
document Suggested areas for medical pot dispensaries

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble said incorporating the health areas helps accomplish the department’s two objectives for this draft: ensure people in rural parts of the state can access marijuana and minimize home-grow by spreading dispensaries throughout the state.

ADHS created health areas after the Arizona Legislature in 1988 mandated that the department collect public-health statistics from different areas and populations across the state. The department uses the map to ensure people in urban and rural areas of the state can access health care, Humble said.

If there are numerous applications for one health area that are in compliance with all the qualifications, the department will randomly select one application for that region. The draft rules also ease the application process for prospective dispensary agents. The initial draft rules did not specify how the department will approve applications, and prospective applicants were wary of the up-front costs involved in opening a dispensary.

The second draft proposes a two-part application process. Dispensary agents would apply for a registration certificate, which saves their spot in the selection process. In this first step, the applicant would be subject to a background check and need to submit basic information for the proposed dispensary, such as the physical address and the name and license of the dispensary’s medical director.

The agent then would apply for an operating license, which requires more detailed plans for running the dispensary, such as a site plan and a certificate of occupancy, which verifies the building meets the local jurisdiction’s planning and development requirements.

This change is a direct result of suggestions submitted during the public-comment period, said Tom Salow, acting manager of administrative counsel and rules at ADHS.

The new proposal removes the 70-30 rule, which requires dispensaries to grow at least 70 percent their marijuana and prohibits them from acquiring from or selling to other dispensaries more than 30 percent. Removing or amending this rule was one of the main suggestions the department received during the public-comment period.

In place of this rule, the department proposed more requirements for inventory control.

Dispensaries would implement policies for tracking, packaging, accepting and acquiring marijuana from patients and other dispensaries, and disposing unusable marijuana.

Dispensaries also would need to document all chemical additives used in the cultivation of each batch of marijuana and where the marijuana seeds originated from.

The public-comment period for the second draft of rules ends Feb. 18. The department will hold four public meetings from Feb. 14 to 17, in Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson.

Humble said the department received several comments from agricultural and medical experts who helped the department shape the new draft. Comments relating to inventory control, transportation of marijuana and duties of a medical director were helpful in getting industry-specific details into the new draft, he said.

“I think overall the real value for the public comment is that there are a lot of areas that we’re just not familiar with. Marijuana is not a big part of our mission – it never has been,” Humble said.

via : AZ Central

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