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Arizona Begins Distributing Medical Marijuana Cards

Ujin Kim |
April 13, 2011 | 9:16 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Photo credited to Creative Commons.
Photo credited to Creative Commons.

Arizonans can begin applying for medical marijuana prescriptions on Wednesday, five months after state voters legalized the use of medical cannabis through Proposition 203.

Arizona became the 15th state to take such action--a small victory in the war of weed that has no end in sight.

Passing by a slim margin of 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, or a mere 4,000 votes among 1.7 million vote, the proposition allowing qualified patients and caregivers permission and protection to purchase cannabis for medical purposes. 

The Arizona Department of Health Services immediately began drawing up the provisions for the initiative. According to Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, there was a focus on minimizing abuse and ensuring the protection and service to medical patients in need.

“We figured hey, if we put some true checks and balances in this system, we can actually make this a medical marijuana program and not a recreational marijuana program,” Humble said.

Arizona Department of Health Services has instituted clear guidelines of medical conditions, including HIV, glaucoma, and cancer. No public smoking is permitted. The registration for medical cards are being officially administered Wednesday, permitting the prescription of 2.5 ounces of cannabis every two weeks. 

Two failed attempts and the unavoidable federal law listing marijuana as a Schedule 1 Narcotic under the US Controlled Substances Act still raise questions whether this weed war will ever end. Supporters say the measure will offer relief to patients suffering from debilitating conditions. Opponents argued that it will lead to rampant abuse and offer special protection that insulates them from regulation.

With an allowance of one dispensary for every ten pharmacies, there may be more marijuana dispensaries in Arizona than there are Starbucks in Southern California, where legalization has also been a loaded topic.

Yet, will the conversation in California change after watching Arizona nurture a billion dollar industry? It may be prime time to begin drinking the Kool-Aid or rather smoking it. 

Reach the reporter Ujin Kim here.



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