Understanding the Recent Changes in Arizona Medical Marijuana Laws
In the state of Arizona, medical cannabis can be used for therapeutic purposes, according to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2010. However, the state doesn’t allow recreational cannabis. In 2019, some changes were initiated to the original medical marijuana program of the state.
It aims to allow a new registration system for patients and safe access to high-quality medicines. Here are some changes that you should understand about these laws.
The Validity of MMJ Card in Arizona
Despite the misconceptions, the validity of the Arizona medical marijuana card depends on the expiration date given on the card. You can buy cannabis from licensed dispensaries and possess not more than 2.5 ounces of the medicine only if your card is valid.
However, the cards issued after August 27, 2019, are covered by the SB 1494 law that makes the cards valid for two years. Also, the fee structure was changed with these amendments. The fee for MMJ card is $150/year or $75 for SNAP holders.
Introduction of E-Cards
From December 1, 2019, the law has mandated the option of electronic cards for patients in Arizona. The medical marijuana program is undergoing massive progress in the state. Nearly 1000 cards are produced by DHS almost every day. With the introduction of e-cards, the process will become easier for the patients and dispensaries as well.
While patients don’t have to carry the card everywhere, dispensaries can also reduce the waiting period for registration using the online processes. It streamlines the procedure for applying and getting approvals by registered physicians for the patients.
Testing Procedures for Medical Cannabis
Currently, the state of Arizona has nearly 6-7 marijuana testing laboratories. However, with the new legislation, the process of testing has also improved. The changes allow proper testing of cannabis samples, starting from November 1, 2020.
From this date, patients can ask for test results related to any batch of medical cannabis products. It will allow restrictions and fines for companies that repeatedly violate the standards.
According to new changes, there will be a council to address issues like handling the batches with high contaminants and determining the responsibilities of dispensaries selling MMJ products. From cannabis buds to concentrates, the patients can ask for testing results at any phase of the cannabis cycle.
Likely Impact on Physicians
One of the unseen influences of the new SB 1494 law is the impact on the doctors. The new system allows the validity of two years for Arizona medical marijuana card. As a result, there may be a loss in revenue for the doctors and certification providers.
Since they write recommendations and ensure the legal implementation of MMJ laws, it is hard to ignore the impact of changes in their practice. On the brighter side, the law is expected to bring more patients to the program. As a result, the revenues will balance out between the new and returning patients.
In some other states like California, the rate of failure for cannabis testing has increased in the past years. Hence, the Arizona government is trying to regulate the entire process from screening to distribution to improve its MMJ program using these new laws.