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The ACPL Is Advocating for Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Patients

Cannabis Patient Arizona

The American Council for Patient Liberty produced an educational video to inform Arizonans and elected officials about the state’s voter-protected medical marijuana law and hemp. House Bill 2149, sponsored by Rep. Tony Rivero (R), seeks to update the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act’s language to more clearly define its inclusion of marijuana extracts.

“The [Medical] Marijuana Act supersedes the criminal code and I don’t want it to be used as a tool to force patients who are fighting cancer and other diseases to have to smoke marijuana” rather than using extracts or concentrates, said Rep. Rivero this past January.

Different Arizona courts, including the Arizona Appeals Court, have been grappling with how to interpret marijuana versus cannabis. Rivero’s proposed law clarifies what some have said is causing significant confusion among Arizonans, and more importantly, patients.

“My daughter’s home health nursing agency abruptly discontinued services on the basis of our grey medical marijuana laws stating the potential illegality of concentrated cannabis, the form we most utilize when medicating my special needs, chronically ill teenager who is in palliative care,” said Parisa Mansouri-Rad of Phoenix.

Will Humble, the Arizona Public Health Association Director and former Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, supports HB 2149 as it “synchronizes the definitions of marijuana and cannabis in the state criminal code and the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act,” according to a blog post on the AzPHA site dated Jan 30, 2019.

“This bill will alleviate our concerns over access to needed medicine and reduce the legal incomprehension which is now affecting my daughter’s quality of life,” Mansouri-Rad said. “To me and my daughter, this is not a political game being played by county attorneys who are seeking to invalidate what voters have approved – it is life and death.”

The confusion over the cannabis definition is resulting in criminal charges, and an uncertain future for cancer patients who are using medical marijuana extracts in Arizona to cope with the side effects of their treatment. It also creates a criminal class for children with epilepsy alongside other vulnerable medical marijuana patient populations.

The Arizona cannabis statute definition not only conflicts with federal hemp laws (the 2018 United States Farm Bill) but the recently passed Arizona Industrial Hemp Bill (SB 1098). In the 2018 Arizona Legislative session, SB 1098 sailed through both Houses with a super-majority vote and was signed by Governor Ducey.

In June 2018, in State of Arizona v. Jones, the Arizona Division 1 Appeals Court ruled that Arizona medical marijuana dispensary agents and patients can no longer lawfully distribute or use extract-based medicine due to an uncertainty regarding Arizona laws. This is in spite of the fact that prior court decisions related to marijuana/cannabis definitions essentially said they are one in the same.

How to Support This Bill

Arizonans can support this bill online by using the Request to Speak (RTS) system. It entails making a one-time visit to 1700 W Washington St. in Phoenix or 400 W Congress St., Suite 201 in Tucson and registering for RTS using the kiosks there.  Once that step is completed, you can then individually support bills online. Learn more about RTS at www.azleg.gov/alisPDFs/RTS_Manual_public.pdf

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