Wednesday, January 20, 2016

GOP Lawmakers Want to Amend Medical Marijuana Act, Make It Harder for Patients to Access Medication

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 8:47 AM

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Two proposals are being pushed by Republican state lawmakers that would make it harder for medical marijuana patients to access their medication.

Both want to amend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act to limit which types of doctors can issue referrals for medical weed, establish stricter restrictions on who can get those referrals, and require patients to get new referrals more often, according The Associated Press (the article was originally posted on KJZZ'.org).

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, introduced House Bill 2061, which would remove pregnant women from the list of patients who qualify for medical weed. But she'll most likely need three-fourths of votes in the state House and Senate to amend the law, because the Medical Marijuana Act is a voter-approved initiative, AP says.

The proposal by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, would remove physicians who practice alternative medicine like naturopathy and homeopathy from the list of doctors who can issue medical marijuana referrals, "leaving only doctors of medicine and osteopathy," AP says.
It also would set requirements that qualifying patients acquire a new referral every six months, instead of once a year like they do now.
Figures from July 2015 say that more than 87 percent of medical marijuana referrals come from naturopaths and homeopaths, according to a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Lawrence introduced his measure as a bill and as a House Concurrent Resolution, meaning it would only become law if enacted by the voters. That way, HCR 2019 can become law without needing three-fourths of the votes in both houses to pass in the Legislature.
J.P. Holyoak, president of the Arizona Dispensary Association told the AP that he questions the legality of the bills. Also, he says, the state's medical marijuana industry has proven to be successful, and new laws trying to cripple it are "unnecessary and counterproductive."

"It's disappointing to see some legislators are trying to roll back a voter-approved law that is helping tens of thousands of seriously ill Arizonans," Holyoak told the AP in an email. "Our state should focus on moving forward, not backward."

As of December, roughly 88,000 people in Arizona are registered medical marijuana patients, the AP says.

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