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Editorials

On March 21, 2014, Judge Katherine Cooper of the Maricopa County Superior Court ruled that Zander Welton, a young child who suffers from seizures, may consume CBD products in any form to treat his medical condition. Actually, Judge Cooper took it at least one step further. She ruled that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”) allows medical marijuana to be processed into hashish, extracts, tinctures, waxes, butters, oils and other types of products. Her decision states that the AMMA defines marijuana as “ ‘all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant.’ A.R.S. § 36-2801(1). It defines ‘[u]sable marijuana’ as the ‘dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof., but does not include the seeds, stalks and roots of the plant and does not include the weight of any non-marijuana ingredients combined with marijuana and prepared for consumption as food or drink.’ A.R.S. § 36-2801(15).”

Judge Cooper, one of my favorite judges because she is so smart, further held that the definition of “usable marijuana” does not limit the legal medicine to just the dried flowers. She stated:

Arizona Medical Marijuana Legal News

Attorney Jeffrey Kaufman

As the lead attorney for White Mountain Health Center, a dispensary to be located in Sun City, Arizona, I am overjoyed to be able to write this article and confirm that Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon has ruled that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act is valid, enforceable and not preempted by federal law! This is welcome news for all medical marijuana patients, caregivers and professionals in the State of Arizona and elsewhere. Even though we expect Defendants Maricopa County (Bill Montgomery, County Attorney) and the State of Arizona (Tom Horne, Attorney General) to appeal Judge Gordon’s ruling, I believe that a considerable number of dispensaries will open in the very near future.

Judge Gordon rejected all of the government’s arguments that the AMMA and the Federal Controlled Substances Act cannot co-exist. Even though the feds can enforce the CSA, if they choose to do so, the federal government, at least in my opinion, has not prosecuted people who are in full compliance with state medical marijuana laws. Despite rumors to the contrary, every prosecution that I know of in medical marijuana states involves conduct that violated state law, as well as the CSA. For example, some dispensaries in California were shut down because they failed to obtain building permits and some collectives and others simple had more plants than allowed by state law.
Kudos to Judge Gordon for specifically ruling that: “Thus in the final analysis, the Court finds that federal law does not preempt the AMMA. In so doing, the Court notes that Arizona, if it had wished to do so, could have fully decriminalized the possession, use and sale of marijuana under State law. In its wisdom Arizona [obviously referring to our voters and not to our elected officials] took a far narrower and deliberative course opting to allow only the chronically ill access to it and only after a licensed physician certified that it might well relieve its citizens of suffering.”

I realize that the White Mountain v. County of Maricopa decision hastens the day when many, if not most caregivers’ and patient’s ability to grow their own medicine will probably come to an end. Skilled edible, medible, tincture and other crafters of these great products face similar restrictions in the near future. I don’t know if there is a way to accommodate the desires of every caregiver, patient and mmj professional under the current law which favors dispensaries, but I welcome the continuing opportunity to be able to work on these issues, as well as to continue to advise dispensary certificate holders, caregivers, patients and other professionals. This would not have been possible without Judge Gordon holding that the AMMA is not preempted by federal law.

The text of Judge Gordon’s December 4, 2012 decision is available on my website, www.jeffkaufmanlaw.com. Click on the “Resources” tab. Then click again under the heading Medical Marijuana News.

Always put your agreements in writing and please carry your card.

Jeff
JEFFREY S. KAUFMAN, LTD.
Attorney at Law
5725 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 190
Scottsdale, Arizona 85250
(480) 994-8000
(480) 994-8129 (fax)
www.JeffKaufmanlaw.com

picture of marijuana leaf.Last Friday, October 19, 2012, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon heard arguments made by Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery (himself) and by Deputy Attorney General Charles Grube, for Tom Horne, challenging the viability of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. An explanation of how we got to this point can be found in my editorial entitled: The Most Important Medical Marijuana Lawsuit in Recent History?

Judge Gordon, my co-counsel Ezekiel Edwards of the ACLU, and even the attorneys challenging the law and me were all well-prepared. Judge Gordon asked each attorney a number of pointed questions, directed at the potential weaknesses and effects of their respective positions. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Gordon “took the matter under advisement.” This is a fancy way of saying the he was unwilling to rule on the spot. He stated that he wanted to re-read some of the cases that had been cited by the parties, as allegedly-important and controlling precedent. They may guide or even dictate how the judge will rule. Without divulging the potential weaknesses in White Mountain’s and most of the people reading this article’s position, the gist of the government’s claim is that marijuana, in every manner whatsoever including growing and possession by cardholding patients and caregivers, is absolutely illegal under federal law; and that federal law “trumps” (controls over, for you non-bridge players) state law. They insist that, since marijuana is a Class 1, Controlled Substance, with no “proven” medical uses whatsoever, just like heroin, it cannot even be legally prescribed or recommended for use by doctors or by anyone else.

Naturally, we argued that there are numerous reasons why no court has stopped 16 states and the District of Columbia. Like Arizona, they have partially decriminalized cannabis possession by authorized patients, caregivers, cultivators and various types of legal distributors, pursuant to state law. We cited cases. One of them, Garden Grove v. Superior Court of Orange County, even held that the police had to return marijuana that was unlawfully confiscated by the police from a cardholder during a traffic stop. The United States Supreme Court declined to reconsider the decision of the California Court of Appeal. We reminded Judge Gordon that the feds can still enforce federal law and that the state cannot enforce federal law. We urged Judge Gordon to give due weight to the fact that the AMMA is a voter initiative, rather than merely a bill that was passed by the legislature. Other technical issues were raised.


In response, Mr. Montgomery actually argued that it would have been fine for the voters to totally decriminalize marijuana, rather than just making it available to sick people, who need and benefit from its pain and nausea relieving and other beneficial properties. He claimed that his office could deal with total legalization of cannabis because it didn’t require government participation to aid the possession and use of marijuana by issuing cards, building permits, etc. (The last time we passed a decriminalization statute it was struck down because it required doctors to write “prescriptions” for the harmless weed and that the Controlled Substances Act did not allow prescriptions to be written for Schedule 1 substances.)

Despite the best efforts of the government, I believe that Judge Gordon will rule in November that the AMMA is valid, enforceable and not preempted by federal law. I do not think that Judge Gordon bought into the argument that total legalization of cannabis in Arizona is permissible, but that partial decriminalization is prohibited. Judge Gordon is unlikely to invalidate a state statute, especially one passed by the public, rather than the legislature.

If all goes according to plan, dispensaries will be open by the end of the year. There is at least one in Tucson that has already been constructed. It is just waiting for DHS inspection which can take up to 90 days. Maricopa County and perhaps other defendants will appeal. An appeal will take about one year, but I believe that the AMMA will be enforced, rather than quashed or enjoined during the appeal process. Obviously, this is a good thing for us. I also believe that no appellate court will invalidate the AMMA.

If you have any questions, you can contact me by Googleing Jeffrey S Kaufman Ltd, Scottsdale medical marijuana lawyer or www.jeffkaufmanlaw.com. I will try to respond to all, depending upon the volume.

Remember to always carry your card.

–Jeff

Jeff Kaufman has more than 30 years of experience in Arizona. His practice encompasses the fields of real estate, business, corporate, private offerings and personal injury. You can reach Jeff at Jeff@KaufmanEsq.com or (480) 994-8000.

Jeffrey S. Kaufman, Esq.
Attorney at Law
5725 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 190
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Jeff@KaufmanEsq.com
www.jeffkaufmanlaw.com
(480) 994-8000
(480) 994-8129 fax

White Mountain Lawsuit Arizona MarijuanaI am privileged to represent White Mountain Health Center, Inc., the only applicant for a dispensary in the Sun City CHAA. Let me give you some background and then explain its significance.

White Mountain sued Maricopa County, William Montgomery, DHS and Will Humble, its Director, because DHS refused to accept and threatened to reject its application for a Dispensary Registry Certificate. DHS claimed that the application was defective because Maricopa County, the “local governing jurisdiction” of Sun City refused to provide verification of local zoning requirements for medical marijuana businesses or the lack of local restrictions. Maricopa County Attorney Montgomery claimed that the county could not provide information because to do so could subject county employees to prosecution for violating or facilitating violation of federal law that makes all forms of cannabis illegal. This was the same excuse that Gov. Jan Brewer tried to use about a year ago, with regard to state employees, but U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Bolton didn’t buy it. In order to protect its rights, White Mountain sought and received a Preliminary Injunction preventing DHS from denying its application. Since that time, the State of Arizona sought and obtained permission from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon to “intervene” and argue that the all portions of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (the “AMMA”) that allow anyone to buy, sell, dispense or grow cannabis are void because they conflict with and are pre-empted by federal law. I’m not sure why the state of Arizona sought to intervene because the pre-emption argument has already been raised Maricopa County.

The current status of this dispute is that all relevant arguments are set for hearing before Judge Gordon on October 19, 2012. Fortunately for me and my clients, the ACLU and the ACLU of Arizona have agreed to serve as my co-counsel with regard to the federal pre-emption issue.


This is an extremely important case because the Defendants and the State have chosen to make it the venue for the Superior Court to decide whether the AMMA, a voter-passed initiative, is valid or invalid. Even though it is a virtual certainty that the loser will appeal to the Arizona Court of Appeals, to infinity and beyond, the defendants sought and received an accelerated hearing date, from the prior date set by Judge Gordon, which was after the Election Day. At first I thought that they did this because, in their opinion, it would generate favorable publicity before the election. However, upon reflection, I believe that the defendants hope that Judge Gordon will rule in their favor before DHS has to inspect any proposed, constructed dispensaries and grant permission for any dispensaries to open.

Our elected officials just cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that the voters passed a law and that their job is to enforce it, rather than to challenge it. They would rather pander to their constituents than yield to the will of the people. I hope that many of you who read this will contact your elected officials including, but not limited to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and your state and federal legislators. Please urge them to support the AMMA and federal legislation that would remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I Controlled Substances. This way medicinal cannabis can be prescribed by reputable health care providers for the many patients that are suffering due to the difficulty of obtaining their medicine.

Thank you and always remember to carry your card!

-Jeff
Jeff Kaufman has more than 30 years of experience in Arizona. His practice encompasses the fields of real estate, business, corporate, private offerings and personal injury. You can reach Jeff at Jeff@KaufmanEsq.com or (480) 994-8000.

Jeffrey S. Kaufman, Esq.
Attorney at Law
5725 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 190
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Jeff@KaufmanEsq.com
www.jeffkaufmanlaw.com
(480) 994-8000
(480) 994-8129 fax

Editorial by JRM, Marketing Director at Compassion First AZ

Arizona has one of the most up-to-date and tightly regulated Medical Marijuana Programs in the country. The state has learned from the “Wild-West” MMJ states like California & Colorado, and designed a very efficient and tightly regulated industry for “ganjapreneurs” to compete in. Having these strict guidelines to abide by works in favor of both parties. It allows the state to more tightly regulate inventory levels and ensure that no excess marijuana is hitting the black market, while also protecting those who venture into the industry by having strict and clear guidelines in which to operate.

Tommy ChongWhen I first read through proposition 203 passed by Arizona voters in 2010 (final revised laws came into effect in April of 2011) I was very pleased to see the state of Arizona recognized concentrates as a beneficial and routine part of marijuana manufacturing. However, the Attorney for Maricopa County has ruled that concentrates of marijuana, such as hash/tinctures/oils, etc are NOT covered by the AMMA and thus subject to criminal penalties. This interpretation is absurd and completely contradicts the language in the AMMA, which states “Usable marijuana means the dried flowers of the cannabis plant, and ANY mixture or preparation thereof”. This contradicting statement gave a lot of Arizona individuals a false sense of security and left them with the choice of either abandoning all types of concentrates or providing these substances to patients with the chance of being prosecuted.

What the state doesn’t realize is that the effects of marijuana do NOT exponentially increase with concentrated THC levels. (For example, a concentrate that tests 60% THC does NOT get you 4 times as high as a bud that tests 15% THC) For the state to be limiting access to these kinds of concentrates it is hurting those patients that really need the marijuana for medicinal purposes. You cannot smoke enough marijuana to obtain the large benefit that cannabis can provide so these concentrates allow individuals to consume highly medicated doses of marijuana all at once to receive the miracle medicinal properties of the cannabinoid. According to the Journal of Clinical Investigation (published by Spain, France & Italy), cannabinoids effectively target and kill cancerous cells, they do not affect healthy, normal cells and may actually protect them against cellular death. Moreover, cannabinoids are also researched for their pain-modulation and anti-inflammatory abilities as they bind to special receptors in the brain, much like opioid derivatives that are commonly prescribed today

Recently, famous marijuana comedy icon Tommy Chong has announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer! The 74 year old has been treating his diagnosis with extracted hemp oil and continues to improve each and every day! Tommy Chong also noted that he does NOT smoke marijuana anymore due to health reasons, but relies on these extracted cannabis methods to get through daily pain and uncomfortable situations. According to the American Cancer Society, cannabis has been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration to relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting, and to help restore the appetite in individuals with cancers, AIDS, and other immune disorders.

Compassion First Caregiver Circle is looking to challenge Maricopa County’s interpretation of Concentrates due to how contradictive they are in their law descriptions and how limiting they are of real patients who cannot smoke marijuana at all and need to ingest the extracted plant orally. We feel they do not have solid ground to back their claim and will not likely survive a legal challenge. Visit Compassion First Caregiver Circle for more information!

–JRM
Marketing Director
Compassion First AZ
www.CaregiverCircleAZ.com

Editorial by JRM, Marketing Director at Compassion First AZ

Arizona has been the most recent stage for veterans to voice their opinions on the benefits of Medical Marijuana for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Last month there was a meeting held in Phoenix to have PTSD added to Arizona’s accepted ailments for the AMMA. Many veterans around the nation have preached about the benefits of medical marijuana compared to the “mind-eating” prescription pills doctors have routinely pumped our soldiers full of. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, PTSD is an “anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event.” I would say these past few years of non-stop war in the Middle East have been extremely dangerous events that scarred the minds of many of our soldiers!

While the Department of Veteran Affairs has allowed these soldiers to use marijuana in states that have legalized its use for medical purposes, the Federal Government continues to send mixed messages of whether they are actually acting in compliance. Also, the DVA will not let their VA doctors make any recommendations relating to medical marijuana, which scares some veterans into thinking the government could backfire and remove the benefits of all veterans testing positive for marijuana since the drug remains illegal under federal law. This has forced them to hit black markets for the drug or become a “zombie” receiving improper prescription pills. These kinds of unnecessary stresses are the last thing our veterans need or deserve. They have been through harsh times and deserve to be treated equally both socially and medically!

If the state chooses to allow PTSD to be added to the list of accepted ailments under the AMMA, 15,000-20,000 NEW patients are expected to be added to the program here in Arizona. That’s roughly a 70% increase in patient cards that will soon be able to purchase from dispensaries located all across the state!

Compassion First Caregiver Circle has always supported our military and veterans who have provided the ultimate sacrifice to keep our nation safe and free. We hope the state will rule in favor of the veterans and allow these soldiers suffering from PTSD to seek relief from medical marijuana instead of these horribly addicting narcotic prescription drugs!

*For more information of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Industry visit http://www.CaregiverCircleAZ!

-JRM
Marketing Director
Compassion First AZ
www.CaregiverCircleAZ.com

EDITORIAL SUBMISSION: by PATIENT PROVIDER DELIVERY

Arizona hasn’t made things easy on patients or caregivers. Here are the irrefutable facts every patient and caregiver should know about the money maker for the state!

  • Arizona has the strictest requirements to get a patient card that any state has seen yet, and the most application fees. Because of the required documentation of severe, debilitating medical conditions, our patient population is older with 74% averaging 31+ years old, and 53% being 41+ years old. These aren’t young recreational users; patients in AZ are older sick individuals seeking help and mostly relief from dangerous pharmaceuticals.
  • Average cost to be a patient $150 to a doctor, and $150 to AZDHS.gov. SNAP eligible or food stamp patient pay reduced fee of $75 to AZDHS.gov. No Insurance, Medicare, disability, or state assistance program will pay any of the fees. Everything is out of the patient’s pocket.
  • Cost to be a caregiver (grower for an approved patient) is $200 to AZDHS.gov. A caregiver can grow for a maximum of 5 patients at $200 per patient to AZDHS.gov. It costs $1000 to be a full caregiver.

As May 8, 2012

  • There are 28,289 approved patient applications.  Most patients are not on food stamps for the reduced fee but AZDHS.gov has received somewhere between  $2,121,675 – $4,243,350 in patient application fees then, at $75-$150 an app.
  • There are 1667 caregivers giving the AZDHS.gov somewhere between $333,400-(if every caregiver has one patient assigned) and $1,667,000 (if every caregiver was full with 5 patients assigned to them.)

AZDHS.gov has taken between $2.4 -$5.9 Million in state application fees from patients and caregivers its first year.  Most patients are not assigned to caregivers and 81% have requested to grow. This leaves 4,354 patients assigned to caregivers or not having any legal option to acquire medicine.

ARS -36-2811 defines how a patient may legally acquire their medication.

  1. They may cultivate themselves if no dispensaries are open within 25 miles of their home, or give their cultivation rights to a caregiver.
  2. They may acquire through a dispensary and compensate them for medication, or compensate their assigned caregiver. (extra $200 to AZDHS.gov for caregiver assignment)
  3. It is also legal for a patient to acquire from another patient under the bi-laws so long as nothing of value is exchanged.

This means that a patient who incurs application fees, and the same overhead for facility, lighting, grow equipment, fertilizer and substrate, cannot be compensated for their grow expenses legally under the bi-laws. Call it a sale or donation, its not legal according the AZDHS.gov who took $2.4-$5.9 million from these patients.

Marijuana growth cycle is not a short period of time. It take an average of 3.5 months from seed/cutting to dried finish medication.

  • With no dispensaries open, no patient could legally have medicine or have compensated anyone for medication for the nearly the first 3.5 months of the program.
  • If you are an approved patient cultivating you must successfully grow your own or rely on other patients or caregivers for free medicine,
  • GOOD LUCK GETTING FREE MEDS while your grow or your caregiver’s grow are finishing. (3.5 months on average!)

That’s now $150 to a doctor, $150 the AZDHS.gov for patient application fee, $200 to AZDHS.gov for caregiver application fee. (The caregiver fee should never be paid directly by the patient, but ultimately becomes part of the caregiver’s costs to produce medicine for the patient)  $500 now in expenses before any medicine is ever produced or consumed.  Thank you AZ for taking advantage of the sick and elderlyL

Now we can get to the first two questions every patient has:

Where do I get meds, and how much will they cost me??

  • Patient Providers Delivery is a small network of legal patients, and caregivers all authorized to cultivate under Arizona law.  We are able to assist all of the greater Phoenix area. We started our group after speaking with AZDHS, and being told intrastate delivery wasn’t legal to our assigned patients through typical delivery companies…? Well, unless the delivery drivers are also approved cardholders! All patient card information is collected in advance to ensure compliance, to guarantee safe access, and to ensure that no expired patients are assisted. (make sure to renew!) All “drivers” are patients or patient/caregivers who function as couriers between your assigned caregivers/growers.
  • Patients that are growing may barter medication, and compensate for delivery and service fees but nothing of value can be exchanged for medicine. Other patients must agree to being assigned a caregiver, and complete the AZDHS form to designate a caregiver.
  • We will collect your license, green card, application info, and caregiver agreement. All medication is donated for the cost of production that never deviates based on the quantity one is acquiring. This is a non-profit industry. The rates are broken down and average $8-$11.50 per gram, with a courier fee added at the end.
  • Everything is medical grade with high THC percentages. Please visit azmarijuana.com for many reviews of our medicine. Those guys know everyone is the Arizona MJ industry and get their meds from us!
  • A patient may acquire up to 70 grams at anytime from their caregiver. The less delivery trips one desires, the less they will donate over time for their medication. Please contact us today to get a caregiver, and get legal medication delivery.  Call us today at 480-689-1761 for more info and answers.

What happens when the dispensaries start to open?

  • As it stands now, the dispensaries will limit patients from being able to cultivate or to assign a caregiver if they live within 25 miles of a dispensary location.  That means that every patient and caregiver that incurred all the costs of growing, must stop what they are invested now in doing.
  • This forces nearly every patient in the state to go through the dispensary system,
  • Most patients cost of care will be 2 to 5 times their current cost if they are growing or using a caregiver.
  • AZDHS,gov took millions in application fees, gave us no outlet other than to grow and now wants to force everyone into inflated dispensary rates.
  • Dispensaries are more expensive to the high security and overhead costs, but really its something else…
  • Non-profit board members of these dispensaries average around $150,000 a year in salary and most do not work in producing the medicine???
  • With most boards at 10-20+ individuals that’s an extra $1.5-$3 million is cost for medication the patients pay to people who did nothing more than run a store front.

What should AZDHS.gov be doing?

  • LA, CA has more dispensaries and collective than it has Starbucks and McDonalds combined. Denver, CO has over 750 dispensaries in that city alone.
  • More competition forces prices down and quality of medication produced up. People will find better options for less expense when given the choice.
  • AZ is going to have 125 dispensaries for the entire state without any competitive nature. Just $5000 non-refundable application fee to the 125 business that apparently get the “golden ticket.”
  • Many patients, who paid application fees, and incurred the expenses to grow, will be forced into the higher priced dispensary system now. For some this means they will no longer be able to afford medicine and have pain and suffering. For others, they will have quantifiable damages if their cost of care goes up, and it will!

AZDHS.gov needs to remove the 25 mile grow restriction before they get sued.

  • Patient should contact the department of health services and let them know they would like this bi-law changed, or they will be joining in a pending lawsuit. They took our money, gave us no options other than to grow and pay the expenses to do so, and now want to take that away causing financial damages to 28,000+ patients. 
  • Another problem with the rule is that the dispensaries will rely on growers for 30% of the product and 100% of their initial product. Also, the feds hate large scale grow facilities. With only 125 business controlling everything, these grows will be bigger than any state has ever seen causing the most federal attention and risk.

Call us today at 480-689-1761 for more info and answers.