Republicans in the Arizona Legislature are sponsoring a bill that would allow those struggling with opioid addiction to have access to medical marijuana. House Bill 2064 is sponsored by Representative Vince Leach.
The legislation was primarily aimed at preventing dispensaries from offering edibles in certain types of packaging that would be appealing to kids, but a carefully placed amendment in the bill includes allowing opioid addiction as a medical marijuana qualifying condition, according to Phoenix New Times.
Mikel Weisser of Arizona NORML said that HB 2064 “went from being something that I found, in its original language and apparent intent, annoying. Now, with the opioid use disorder added, it’s something I want to see happen.”
The Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee unanimously passed the legislation. The bill already had full support from the House.
What’s surprising about the bill’s sponsor is that Rep. Leach isn’t exactly marijuana-friendly, but following negotiations with Democrats, the amendment was added to his bill. The House needed support from Democrats to get the legislation through the first set of hurdles as a three-fourths majority is required to alter or amend voter-approved law in Arizona.
Kevin DeMenna, a marijuana lobbyist in Arizona, said, “When the votes weren’t there, Mr. Leach went back to the drawing board and apparently concluded that debilitating medical conditions should now include opioid use disorder.”
Weisser said, “I’m not sure that will get the reception that we want on the Ninth Floor. But I think it’s a real step forward to be a state that’s considering addressing opioid dependency by looking at medical marijuana.”
It isn’t clear whether Governor Ducey will sign or veto the legislation. Ducey is anti-marijuana, but when reviewing this legislation, he will also be considering Arizona’s current opioid epidemic.