|Photo: The Huffington Post|
|Medical marijuana application forms went online Monday in Arizona. State law requires that qualified applicants receive their cards within 10 days.|
First Patients Should Be Getting Cards In 10 Days
Arizona patients who act quickly can be among the first to qualify to buy, possess, and use marijuana, which state voters last November legalized for medical use.
Medical marijuana application forms went online Monday in Arizona. State law requires that qualified patients receive their cards within 10 days of applying. All patients are authorized to grow until dispensaries start up later this year.
Department of Health Services officials on Monday made forms available on the agency’s website that a doctor must fill out to get a patient authorized to use cannabis, reports Howard Fischer at Capitol Media Services. DHS Director Will Humble said that while applications won’t be accepted until April 14, those who think they qualify can jump-start the process right now.
And if everything is in order, state law requires the medical marijuana cards to be sent out within 10 days, if patients pay the $150 application fee by credit card.
There won’t be any place for patients to legally buy marijuana until the first official dispensaries are licensed in September. But the law allows those living 25 miles or more from the nearest dispensary to grow their own marijuana. With no operating dispensaries, everyone with a card qualifies, at least for the first year.
|Jamie Peachey/Phoenix New Times|
|Arizona DHS Director Will Humble: “I really don’t have any advice for folks on how to find seeds. Maybe there’s ads in the back of a weekly magazine in town for that, too.”|
Humble couldn’t explain how patients will get seeds or cuttings to get started.
“I don’t know!” he exclaimed. “We’re not going to prescribe how you do that. And I really don’t have any advice for folks on how to find seeds. Maybe there’s ads in the back of a weekly magazine in town for that, too.”
The first step is a doctor’s visit. If the family physician is unwilling to recommend marijuana, Humble said patients will need to shop around for a doctor who will.
However, Humble said Arizona doctors “need to do better” than those in some other states, particularly California, where a quick visit can get a doctor’s signature for almost any condition.
Under Arizona regulations, doctors are supposed to review patients’ medical records for the last 12 months, plus do a full assessment and physical related to the medical condition for which the patient seeks marijuana. That also means discussing alternate therapies with the patient and the pluses and minuses of medical marijuana, “really talking to you about what marijuana is, what it can do to your ability to drive a car, for example,” Humble said.
Once you have a doctor’s signature on the form, the application process goes electronic. Patients can complete an online form and electronically attach a copy of their driver’s license or state identification proving Arizona residency, the physician’s authorization and a digital photo, along with the $150 application fee to cover the cost of administering the program.
Humble’s agency agreed to a 50 percent discount for those eligible for food stamps, meaning $1,984 or less per month for a family of three.
The state will not regulate dispensary prices, but Humble said his department will make sure there is “a robust network of dispensaries” and to “make sure that qualified patients know where those dispensaries are, so they can shop around for price and quality, and let the market determine what the ultimate prices are.”
Arizona’s medical marijuana lists specific conditions for which doctors can recommend marijuana, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. There is also a broader definition including any chronic or debilitating medical condition that causes severe and chronic pain, seizures or wasting syndrome.
Humble wouldn’t guess how many Arizonans might eventually have medical marijuana cards. If doctors decide to line their pockets “by seeing a patient every seven minutes,” they could easily sign 100,000 authorizations in a year, he said.
Arizona patients who grow their own are required to do so in a “secure facility.” Outdoors, that means a 10-foot concrete wall with a metal gate. Indoors, a lock room or closet accessible only to the patient with the medical marijuana card is required.
For the final rules of Arizona’s medical marijuana program, click here [PDF].