Proposition 203 legalizing medical marijuana in the state of Arizona has passed by a slim margin. However, the law is one of the most restrictive in the nation.
Election officials determined the Arizona medical marijuana “MMJ” law passed by the slimmest of margins, 4,341 votes out of approximately 1.6 million votes cast. After certification, the law requires the state to accept applications for medical marijuana MMJ clinics within 120 days.
However, the law is very restrictive. Pharmacies get first crack at the licenses. There can only be one non-profit clinic per ten licensed pharmacies. At least one non-profit clinic can be opened in each county no matter whether pharmacies elect to sell MMJ. That makes the first non-profit license issued in Phoenix very valuable.
A pharmacy license is expensive to obtain. Hence, many pharmacies will likely decline the opportunity to sell MMJ. Part of the problem is they must grow what they sell, placing the pharmacy in a new industry. Even though MMJ is legal under state laws, it remains illegal under federal laws. That could place a pharmacy in violation of federal laws, thus putting its license at risk.
Under Proposition 203, Arizona requires patients obtain a prescription from a licensed doctor, another problem. Doctors are often reticent to prescribe MMJ for fear of disciplinary action because MMJ is not on a list of FDA approved medications. Other states only require a recommendation, not a prescription.
Arizona law enforcement must respect the law. However, they likely will insist on strict adherence. A person who falls outside of the statutes, even by accident, is subject to severe criminal penalties including years in prison.
Meanwhile, persons who are sick with cancer, AIDS and some other ailments say MMJ gives them relief they are unable to find with traditional medication. They anxiously await for the clinics to open.