Arizona Won’t Regulate Marijuana’s Strength Or Quality



​Arizona has no plans to regulate the strength or quality of medical marijuana sold at dispensaries, authorized last month by voters, when they start opening next year.

The top health official in the state said buyers of medicinal cannabis will know when the pot was grown, whether pesticides were used or even how often it was watered, but not the potency, reports Howard Fischer at the Arizona Daily Star.
The Department of Health Services is writing the rules for distribution of medical marijuana once the new law takes effect in March 2011.
“We’ve got some basic labeling requirements,” state health director Will Humble said. “But we haven’t gone that extra step to require an analysis to determine exactly how much THC in every single piece of inventory. And I doubt that we’re going to go there.”

THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient a marijuana.

Photo: Howard Fisher/Capitol Media Services
Arizona Health Director Will Humble: “We haven’t gone that extra step to require an analysis to determine how much THC is in every single piece of inventory”

​Humble said that even if he wanted Arizona in the business, there are too many variables, even among the same strains of marijuana, such as how the plants were grown, to make such analysis worthwhile.
What he seems to be forgetting is that is is very “worthwhile,” indeed, for a medical marijuana patient to know if he or she is getting, 5 percent or 20 percent THC weed.
Items included in the proposed rules, which are being circulated for public comment, include:
• Requirements for how often a doctor needs to have seen a patient before being able to recommend medical marijuana
• A mandate that each dispensary have a medical director on staff to educate patients and answer questions
• Security requirements for cultivation sites
• Identification requirements for buyers.
Humble said the rules will also specify the only place patients can “medicate” is in the privacy of their own homes or yards. Smoking on sidewalks or public parks — where tobacco use is permitted — will be against the rules.
But what if someone needs medication in the middle of the day?
“The prohibition applies to the smoking of marijuana,” Humble said, adding that some community members “may object” to smoking in public areas, particularly with children present. But there are other ways to ingest cannabis, such as in a smoothie, a brownie, or some other edible, Humble pointed out.
The rules result from voters approving Proposition 203 in November. The measure allows those with a doctor’s recommendation to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
The proposal includes a fairly restrictive definition of what constitutes an “ongoing physician-patient relationship” required before a doctor can actually authorize medical marijuana.
“One option is that this has been their patient for at least one year and they have had four visits with this patient over any period of time,” he said.
For patients with legitimate needs who don’t meet that standard, such as someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer, is undergoing chemotherapy, and wants marijuana to treat the nausea, a recommendation could be written by a physician who has done a “complete medical history” and a physical examination and will continue to oversee the patient’s condition, according to Humble.
In both cases, Humble said, restrictions should prevent a doctor from just going into business as a marijuana specialist to attract new one-time patients.
But Humble said the health department would not second-guess doctors who, if they meet the requirements, issue the necessary recommendation for a patient to obtain marijuana.
Many of the proposed rules deal with how marijuana dispensaries can operate, in addition to each community’s zoning regulations covering locations, hours and other conditions.
For example, dispensaries that want to sell brownies or other edibles would have to obtain permits and equipment to operate like restaurants, or monitor the entire preparation process if the baking is contracted out.
Security requirements are also included, including one requiring each dispensary to have live cameras hooked up to the Internet to allow state health officials to see what is going on at any site at any given time.
The informal draft rules and an electronic comment form are available at until January 7. Comments made will be incorporated into the draft rules, which will be published on January 31, 2011.