Goodbye Will

Humble announces resignation, but no word on who replaces the ADHS director

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble announced he plans to step down on March 3.

Humble gave Gov. Doug Ducey his resignation on Friday, Feb. 13.

The director was front and center in the implementation of the state's voter-approved medical marijuana program, and while some marijuana advocates feel Humble did little to speed up the program steeped in bureaucracy, there's more concern about who Ducey will pick to fill Humble's shoes.

Humble said in a letter he posted on his director's blog that he started working for the department in 1992 doing risk assessment for state superfund sites. He became director in 2009. He never mentions medical marijuana in his online farewell.

"We've made tremendous progress in so many areas. Accomplishments that change and save lives every day in Arizona. From making it more convenient and quick to get a birth certificate, to saving hundreds of lives a year with our cardiac arrest initiatives, to overhauling our healthcare institution and childcare licensing programs, to building a behavioral health system focused on measurable outcomes, and literally hundreds of other system improvements- we have a lot to be proud of.  And we had fun along the way," he wrote.

Last year, Humble was named in two medical marijuana law lawsuits. One related to those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress-disorder. Humble had required that patients be in counseling or regular care in order to qualify, while plaintiffs insisted that was unconstitutional.

In August 2014, the Tucson Weekly interviewed Humble and representatives from the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association. Last summer, an administrative judge recommended that the state allow PTSD as a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana patient card. Jan. 1, 2015 was when those with PTSD could apply for cards, but the nurses association disagreed with how Humble implemented qualifications.

AZCNA attorney Kenny Sobel said cancer patients aren't asked if they are in chemotherapy to qualify.

Humble moved forward with the judge's decision, but wanted PTSD patients to show they were receiving assistance or under a therapist's care.

In Humble's letter, he wrote that a replacement, interim or permanent, will be announced in the next few weeks.

"Careers have a lifecycle. Figuring out when it's time to turn the page and to move on to something else is a hard thing to do. That time has come for me. After a lot of thinking I've decided that it's time for me to move on to something else... I'll keep you updated over the next couple of weeks regarding who will be named Interim or Permanent Director of our agency," Humble wrote. "I don't have any exact professional plans yet.  I think I'll just catch my breath for a while and see what turns up- but I'm sure it'll be in public health in one way, shape, or form."

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