Posts Tagged ‘DISPENSARIES’
Arizona Medical-Marijuana Dispensaries Taking Off; New Shops Open in Glendale, Eloy and Bisbee This Week
By Ray Stern
The state-regulated medical-marijuana dispensary industry that Arizona voters approved in late 2010 is becoming a reality, with three new retail shops opening this week.
Two dispensaries were slated to open today: One in Glendale (the city that already supports the only medical-pot facility in the Phoenix metro area), and another in Eloy. By next Monday, stores in Fort Mohave and Bisbee should be open.
Those four shops add to the seven already open across the state, records show.
Meanwhile, 11 others are in various stages of final approval for operating certificates by the Arizona Department of Health Services, which oversees the program.
This month, would-be dispensary operators in Tempe, Marana, Deer Valley and Sedona requested DHS inspections, meaning it’s possible that dispensaries could open in those locations within a few weeks. Delays are also possible for those operators, depending on whether they’ve met their inspection criteria.
Five dispensaries requested inspections in February, and two made their requests in January, yet still haven’t received their operating certificates for various reasons. We left a message for Will Humble, DHS director, and we’ll let you know what we hear from him.
Susan, a biochemist who works for Jamestown Center in Eloy, says the dispensary is mainly run by pharmacists. They don’t wish to give their full names at this time, she says, but their goal is to run the shop “like a retail pharmacy.”
The Greenhouse, located at 8160 West Union Hills Drive, is the new dispensary in Glendale.The grand opening in Eloy was pushed back to Wednesday, Susan says, at which time the dispensary will begin offering at least seven different strains of medical marijuana to qualified patients. Edible products will be available at some point.
As of March 12, there are 36,595 registered medical-marijuana patients in Arizona, but it seems like that number would be bound to grow once potential patients know there are plenty of state-regulated dispensaries in which to buy their medicine.
Despite being authorized by more than 841,000 Arizona voters in November of 2010, the dispensaries have been a long time in coming due to Governor Jan Brewer’s unilateral move to derail the process. In January of 2012, a judge ordered Brewer to stop thwarting the wishes of voters and let the dispensaries roll. In November, Arizona Organix of Glendale achieved history by becoming the first state-authorized medical-pot retail shop in Arizona.
Without the dispensaries, patients have legally grown their own — or joined one of the local cannabis clubs, which act as unauthorized dispensaries by charging high membership fees and giving away “free” medicine. The clubs’ business model has never been declared illegal, but we’ve written about several club owners and employees who have received probation following raids by police on their businesses.
A group of authorized dispensary operators told the State Legislature in January that they’d prefer to see those cannabis clubs shut down.
But that “problem” could be going away on its own:
In a few months, those cannabis clubs are going to have an awful lot of competition.
by Mark Miller
Fri, Mar 09, 2012 4:47 pm
While the Maryland House of Delegates – the lower house of the state’s General Assembly – currently debates three proposed medical marijuana bills, their efforts may go for naught as Governor Martin O’Malley (D) would reportedly veto any medicinal cannabis legislation due to fears of federal retribution.
Unfortunately, Gov O’Malley is not alone among state officials; Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler has questioned the legality of a medical marijuana program in response to correspondence from Delegate Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County), sponsor of two of the bills.
State Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein has dropped support of all medical cannabis bills, including one he previously publicly endorsed, because of his interpretation of the U.S. government’s threats to prosecute those who participate in large-scale medical marijuana distribution. However, Sharfstein’s reluctance to endorse medical marijuana seems to run deeper than mere concern for fellow state workers; in 2011 he shot down efforts to legalize medi-pot by claiming there is no scientific consensus regarding medicinal marijuana’s benefits.
One of the bills, favored by law enforcement, would be tightly controlled with a selected educational institution dispensing the medicine. Delegate Morhaim’s preferred bill would create state-operated dispensaries to distribute medical pot to patients who receive a doctor’s recommendation.
The third bill, sponsored by Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore County), would actually allow patients to grow their own medicine and Glenn anticipates that TV talk show host, high-profile pot patient, and Baltimore native Montel Williams will testify on behalf of her bill.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Police in Colorado Springs are searching for two people who raided a marijuana dispensary after four dispensaries were hit overnight.
Police say two burglars wore disguises when they broke into the Total Health Care dispensary early Monday. The burglars escaped with an undetermined amount of cash.
Officers from the Sand Creek Division reported three more burglaries at dispensaries early Monday. Authorities say they don’t know if the burglaries are connected.
by Mark Miller
America’s smallest state should soon be getting some big buds – legal medical marijuana buds. A tentative deal brokered between Rhode Island’s General Assembly and Governor Lincoln Chafee should soon see the opening of three medical marijuana dispensaries to which Gov. Chafee had previously delayed granting licenses since 2011 after the state had originally authorized opening a trio of legal medical cannabis clinics back in 2009.
Gov Chafee suspended the dispensary program in ’11 after receiving a memo from U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha warning that anyone participating could be subject to federal prosecution on large-scale drug production charges. Neronha told the AP that he has yet to review the new compromise between Gov Chafee and lawmakers, one that will restrict the amount of medicinal cannabis a given dispensary can possess, the precise limitations still to be determined by the state Dept of Health.
The General Assembly must approve the deal to make it official, but with both House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed said to be in favor, it seems passage will be a fait accompli.
The three dispensaries to be approved are the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence (the 2006 law that legalized medical marijuana in Rhode Island is co-named for Slater), the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth and the Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick, the latter completely financed by ex-NBA shooting guard Cuttino Mobley. Most importantly, 4,400-plus Ocean State pot patients will be able to access their medicine at dispensaries after three long years.
By Charles S. Johnson, The Missoulian – Monday, February 20 2012
The 2011 Legislature passed of a much more restrictive law, Senate Bill 423, which has reduced these numbers. Then there were several dozen federal raids of medical marijuana growing operations, along with the arrests and convictions of some owners.
The combination of the new law and the federal raids has put a damper on the once-booming industry here, officials say.
Since the law took effect in July 2011, the state has seen the number of medical marijuana cardholders drop by nearly half. The number of providers now is less than 10 percent of the peak.
“Senate Bill 423 certainly had an impact,” said Roy Kemp, the chief medical marijuana regulator in the state Department of Public Health and Human Services. “Federal activities certainly have had an impact. The bill made it very difficult for providers to enter the field, as it were.”
John Masterson of Missoula, executive director of Montana NORML, a group working to legalize marijuana in the state, put it more bluntly.
“The federal raids have terrified so many legitimate providers that are otherwise law-abiding providers, who are closing their doors all over the place,” Masterson said.
That, in turn, “cuts off the legal supply to patients that benefit from this herb,” he said.
In January 2012, Montana had 15,984 medical marijuana cardholders registered with the state’s medical marijuana program in the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
That’s the lowest monthly total since the 13,885 people registered in April 2010. It’s a little less than half of the peak in May 2011, when the Montana cardholders, then called patients, totaled 31,522.
By the end of January 2012, Montana had 417 legal medical marijuana providers – the people who legally grow and sell medical pot for licensed cardholders – after peaking at 4,848 in March 2011, according to the state’s statistics. Providers were called caregivers until the 2011 law took effect.
Under the 2011 law, all caregivers’ licenses cards became invalid on July 1, 2011. Those wanting to continue to legally grow and sell marijuana for medical reasons had to register with the department to get providers’ cards.
The new law prohibited anyone with any felony conviction or any misdemeanor drug conviction from being medical marijuana providers.
“It’s important to note that all providers are not created equal,” Masterson said. “There were a handful with warehouses with an agricultural crop grown indoors with a wholesale business.”
The vast majority of providers or caregivers, he said, grew marijuana in a spare bedroom for a couple of people.
And the number of physicians who can recommend the use of medical marijuana was at 274 in January, after peaking at 365 in June 2010.
Regardless of the medical marijuana statistical trends, Masterson said the people who use marijuana in Montana have not disappeared.
“No matter what, there’s going to be about 100,000 people who consume marijuana in Montana,” he said, applying statistical estimates here.
“These folks, whether they are consuming it to address a serious medical condition or to enhance their lives or to relax after a hard day’s work, generally speaking, they’re going to do so whether there’s a state-sanctioned program or not.”
As a result, many have turned to buying marijuana illegally, he said.
Under Montana law, medical marijuana cardholders must renew their cards annually.
“We’re losing about 51 percent of renewals,” Kemp said. “That seems to be the trend. If that trend continues, we’ll end up with 12,000-13,000 (cardholders) by May.”
State officials don’t know why cardholders aren’t renewing to get new cards.
“When they don’t renew, they don’t talk to us,” Kemp said. “They just fade away.”
The new law doesn’t allow people under supervision of the state Corrections Department or federal government to be medical marijuana cards. However, they can keep their cards until May at the latest when their current cards expire.
Kemp said the number of new applications for medical marijuana cards is increasing slightly. He said 181 people applied in January and 190 in December.
Last year, medical marijuana was one of the hottest issues facing the Republican-controlled Legislature. Many lawmakers were determined to crack down on the industry, if not repeal the 2004 voter-passed initiative that legalized the use of marijuana in Montana for some medicinal reasons.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have repealed the 2004 initiative legalizing medical marijuana here.
After the veto, the Legislature then passed SB423 to impose more restrictions on an industry that some legislators and others believed had reeled out of control in recent years. Local governments, law-enforcement officials, school administrators and parents had expressed concern over the rapidly expanding industry.
“Cannabis caravans” had crisscrossed the state and issued cards by the hundreds, if not thousands, to patients. Some people got their cards after brief consultations with physicians, sometimes in person and sometimes via the Internet. Storefronts popped up to sell medical pot to licensed patients.
Those in the industry said they believed they were following the law until a reversal in federal policy by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder triggered federal raids of medical marijuana businesses in Montana and elsewhere.
SB423 became law without the governor’s signature.
Its sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, said the law made two major changes that sought to reduce the number of certified medical marijuana cardholders.
First, he said, the law imposed stricter requirements for people to obtain a doctor’s recommendation for “severe or chronic pain,” which had become by far the most common reason cited by people to obtain medical marijuana cards.
“They had to have objective proof or a second doctor’s recommendation,” Essmann said.
Objective proof means medical evidence of the person’s chronic or severe pain through an X-ray or MRI or other diagnosis.
The number of people obtaining medical marijuana cards for “severe or chronic pain” has shrunk from 23,015 in May 2011 to 10,255 in January 2012.
The law also tightened medical standards for those physicians who recommended medical marijuana to many patients.
“We started to take some steps which the district court has put into abeyance,” Essmann said. “It’s following proper standards of review by the doctor that’s the key to the proper addressing of the problem.”
His bill called for the Department of Public Health and Human Services to report to the state Board of Medical Examiners the names of any physicians recommending medical marijuana for more than 25 patients over a 12-month period. The law empowered the board to review the practices of these physicians.
This was one of several provisions in the law that District Judge James Reynolds of Helena temporarily blocked on June 30, 2011 – the day before the law went into effect. Other parts of the law took effect.
Both the state attorney general’s office, which is defending the law, and the Montana Cannabis Industry Association, which wants it struck down, have appealed parts of his ruling to the Montana Supreme Court. The court has not yet heard the appeals.
Meanwhile, last year, opponents of SB423 mounted an effort and quickly gathered more than 36,000 signatures for a referendum on the law in November. Montanans will decide then whether to retain or reject the law.
At the same time, marijuana backers are gathering signatures for a separate ballot measure asserting that it’s the constitutional right of adults to legally consume marijuana in Montana, regardless of their medical condition.
“We’re going to have a vote in the fall,” Essmann said. “People will make a decision whether they want to go back to the Wild West, whether they want to bring storefronts back, and whether they want to have an industry again.
“If not, they should to leave (SB)423 in law,” he said.
Masterson said there may be a Supreme Court decision on SB423 by then, plus the possibility of two ballot issues addressing marijuana.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” he said. “It’s anybody’s guess how it’s going to play out.”
- Article originally from: The Missoulian.
Special To The SF Examiner
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has asked The City’s Department of Public Health to turn over records for 12 of San Francisco’s remaining 21 medical cannabis dispensaries, according to emails obtained by The San Francisco Examiner.
On Jan. 18 and again Jan. 27, Special Agent David White of the DEA’s financial investigative team sent emails to the health department asking for business licenses, health permits, ownership information and yearly inspection forms for the 12 dispensaries.
Last year, White requested information on five other San Francisco dispensaries, issuing a subpoena to obtain private information not normally released via a records request. The landlords of those dispensaries then received letters from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who warned of property forfeiture and 40-year prison terms unless the dispensaries shut down.
All five dispensaries closed, though two have since become delivery-only services.
Health department Deputy Director Colleen Chawla said her agency complied with the DEA’s most recent request.
White did not respond to a request for comment. Agent Casey McEnry, a DEA spokeswoman, said the agency only comments on cases actively in the courts.
On Oct. 7, the four U.S. attorneys for California announced a coordinated, statewide crackdown on what they called the “medical marijuana industry.” Since then, hundreds of dispensaries have closed, mostly in Sacramento and San Diego counties. Five have closed in San Francisco, and one in Marin.
Stephanie Tucker, a spokeswoman for The City’s Medical Cannabis Task Force, is concerned by the prospect of 12 more dispensaries closing.
“It’s a clear indication that Melinda Haag is not using the discretion of her office to go after bad players as stated at her October 2011 press conference,” Tucker told The SF Examiner on Thursday. “Instead, they are targeting the regulated community who operate with a permit, in compliance with state and local laws, transparently and in good standing with The City and their community.”
Medical marijuana advocates also are rankled by what they call inaction taken by city leaders.
In 2008, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to intervene in the DEA’s “undermin[ing] of California’s state medical marijuana laws.” Newsom’s successor, Mayor Edwin Lee, has yet to comment on the crackdown publicly, and on Thursday he did not respond to requests for comment on the health department emails.
The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in support of dispensaries in the fall, but has not taken action since.
“There’s a definite void in leadership here,” Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, told The SF Examiner on Thursday, adding that federal law enforcement is “undermining the will of the voters” encapsulated in Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medicinal use when it passed in 1996.
“I understand this is a radioactive issue for some people, but too bad — it’s the law of the land,” Ammiano said.
There were 26 dispensaries in San Francisco in October. After The City briefly suspended its permitting process, the Planning Commission is scheduled to hear applications for two new dispensaries at its meeting next week.
San Francisco was the first city in California to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries under its Medical Cannabis Act, which became law in 2005. Much of The City’s regulations are stricter than what is allowed under state law.
Dispensaries pay local and state sales taxes. The health department inspects them once a year to ensure that they comply with city and state laws. All of San Francisco’s dispensaries were found to be in compliance during the most recent inspections.
Open and shut
Last month, the DEA asked city officials for information on 12 of San Francisco’s remaining 21 medical cannabis dispensaries. They are:
Good Fellows Smoke Shop, 473 Haight St.
Re-Leaf Herbal Center, 1284 Mission St.
The Green Cross, 1230 Market St.
Grass Roots, 1077 Post St.
Emmalyn’s, 1597-A Howard St.
Bay Area Safe Alternatives Collective, 1326 Grove St.
SF Medical Cannabis Club, 120 10th St.
Waterfall Wellness, 1545 Ocean Ave.
Hope Net, 223 Ninth St.
Valencia Street Caregivers, 208 Valencia St.
Vapor Room, 607A Haight St.
Shambala Healing Center, 2441 Mission St.
Last year, the DEA made similar requests for information on five other dispensaries. Those dispensaries then closed after receiving threatening letters from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Those dispensaries were:
Mr Nice Guy, 174 Valencia St.
Divinity Tree Wellness Co-op, 958 Geary St.
Medithrive, 1933 Mission St.
Market Street Collective, 1884 Market St.
Sanctuary, 669 O’Farrell St.
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2012/02/dea-digging-san-franciscos-medical-marijuana-dispensaries#ixzz1mI6WGKM3
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—A judge says medical marijuana businesses in Fort Collins will have to shut down by a city-imposed deadline Tuesday.
The owners of six marijuana businesses had asked a judge to block the voter-approved ban from taking effect. The Coloradoan reports (http://noconow.co/wwdcQR) a judge on Thursday denied their request for a temporary restraining order, saying the businesses had failed to demonstrate that their constitutional rights were violated by the ban.
Colorado residents voted in 2000 to allow small uses of marijuana for medical purposes. But in 2010, lawmakers decided to allow cities and counties to decide whether to allow medical marijuana businesses within their boundaries.
Information from: Fort Collins Coloradoan,http://www.coloradoan.com
Arizona: Governor Finally Agrees To Fully Implement State’s 2010 Voter-Approved Medical Cannabis Law
by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy DirectorJanuary 13, 2012
A brief history: In November 2010 Arizona voters narrowlydecided in favor of ballot measure 203, which removes state-level criminal penalties for the use and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by patients who have written certification from their physician indicating that cannabis may alleviate their condition. The measure also mandated the state to adopt rules to govern the establishment of up to 125 nonprofit cannabis dispensaries, which would be legally authorized to produce and dispense marijuana to authorized patients on a not-for-profit basis.
In April 2011, the Arizona Department of Health Services formalized rules regarding an online ID-card registration for qualified patients. (More than 16,000 Arizona residents are now registered with the state to legally possess cannabis.) The Department also announced at that time that it would begin accepting applications from would-be dispensary operators by June 1. That deadline came and went, however, when Gov. Brewer — who had opposed the passage of AMMA — filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that her administration’s compliance with the law’s state-licensing provisions would put state employees in danger of federal prosecution. In response to Gov. Brewer’s suit, attorneys representing the American Civil Liberties Union and the NORML Legal Committee co-authored a Motion to Dismiss the case.
Their efforts were successful. Earlier this month, a federal judge rejected Gov. Brewer’ challenge, asserting “[T]he Complaint does not detail any history of prosecution of state employees for participation in state medical marijuana licensing schemes. [and] fails to establish that Plaintiffs are subject to a genuine threat of imminent prosecution and consequently, the Complaint does not meet the constitutional requirements for ripeness. Therefore, Plaintiffs’ claims are unripe and must be dismissed.”
So, has Gov. Brewer finally gotten the message? Apparently so.
Today, Brewer’s office stated for the record that they would no longer challenge the state’s nascent law in court and instead will cooperate to see that the voters’ demands are once and for all fully enacted.Said the Governor in a press release:
“The State of Arizona will not re-file in federal court a lawsuit that sought clarification that State employees would not be subject to federal criminal prosecution simply for implementing the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Instead, I have directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to begin accepting and processing dispensary applications, and issuing licenses for those facilities once a (separate) pending legal challenge to the Department’s medical marijuana rules is resolved. … With our request for clarification rebuffed on procedural grounds by the federal court, I believe the best course of action now is to complete the implementation of Proposition 203 in accordance with the law.”
According to the website of the Arizona Department of Health, the department hopes to begin accepting applications for dispensaries this summer. To date, only three states — Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico — have granted licenses to allow for the state-sanctioned production and distribution of cannabis. (Several other states, including Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have enacted licensing legislation but to date have refused to issue any actual dispensary licenses.)
Under Arizona law, qualified patients may cultivate their own cannabis at home if they do not reside within 25 miles of an operating cannabis dispensary.
Additional information regarding Arizona’s medicinal cannabis program is available from the Arizona Department of Health Services here.
A judge said a Longmont ban on dispensaries was not an illegal “taking” of property.
UPDATED: 12/18/2011 08:48:22 AM MST
By Scott Rochat
Three medical-marijuana dispensaries have lost their fight against the city of Longmont.
Boulder District Judge Ingrid Bakke on Friday dismissed the dispensaries’ lawsuit against the city in a ruling that mirrored her Aug. 19 decision to not block the city’s ban of marijuana-related businesses.
Bakke ruled the ban neither violated constitutional rights nor constituted an illegal “taking” of property.
“The court concludes that there is no state constitutional right to dispense medical marijuana,” Bakke wrote in her decision. “In addition, there is no federal constitutional right to operate a medical-marijuana facility or to dispense medical marijuana.”
City attorney Eugene Mei said he was pleased with the ruling. “It’s a little early for Christmas, but it’s put a little pep in my step this weekend to have this behind us,” Mei said.
The dispensaries have 45 days to file an appeal.
New Age Wellness, Colorado Patients First and The Longmont Apothecary sued the city on July 29, following a failed petition to put a repeal of the ban on the November ballot. All three closed on Aug. 19 after Bakke refused to issue a preliminary injunction, which would have protected the businesses for the duration of the case.
The dispensaries had sought an injunction and damages from the city.
The dispensary owners could not be reached for comment.
Longmont’s first dispensary, The Longmont Apothecary, opened in December 2008, with several others following in 2009. The city issued a moratorium on new marijuana-related businesses in October 2009 and approved a complete ban in May.
Read more:Judge tosses out Longmont medical-marijuana dispensaries’ lawsuit – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_19571428#ixzz1hCvZ78ed
The Associated Press
POSTED: 11/19/2011 09:29:33 AM MST
UPDATED: 11/19/2011 09:29:34 AM MST
The Coloradoan reports (http://goo.gl/awfNM) that city officials are still sorting out the process for stores to cease operations.
Some marijuana growers need direction on how to remain a caretaker for up to five patients. Also, businesses need to know what to do with marijuana plants and products that remain after a dispensary closes.
Officials say licensed dispensaries may withdraw their state license applications and move to another location where dispensaries are allowed.