MMJ Update and Opinion: New Conditions

The state is failing to meet the requirement to allow new medical conditions

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act has provided safe legal access to medical cannabis to sick Arizonans since the passage of Prop 203 in November 2010. The program is regulated by the Arizona Department of Health Services. New conditions can be added to the program during open application periods twice a year, but the rules surrounding the process and the specific standards by which these conditions are approved or denied are largely left to the AZDHS administration. AZDHS has fought hard against all the petitions filed in the history of the program. Only PTSD, with the help of the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association has been successfully added as a qualifying condition. AZCNA Attorney Ken Sobel appealed the AZDHS denial of PTSD and prevailed.In a huge victory for patient rights, this was special because is it is the first mental health condition to be approved for treatment under the AMMA.

In July 2015, the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association filed for eight new conditions to be added to the program: traumatic brain injury, arthritis, Huntington's disease, Tourette's syndrome, Parkinson's, diabetes, autism and neuropathic pain.

As predicted, the AZDHS denied all eight petitions without a second thought. Six of the eight petitions were denied outright with nary a reason given for the decision—this happens to be against state law as the process for denying a petition requires both a reason for the denial and notice explaining the appeal process. The state has failed to meet either of these requirements.

Perhaps even more alarming were the denials of the petitions regarding Parkinson's and Huntington's. These petitions were deemed compliant, but they were also denied without a hearing. In this case the reason given was that "well established and accepted standards used in approving all other medications in the United States should be followed."

This position is completely arbitrary and has no more basis than "because I said so ..." Nowhere in Prop. 203 is such language incorporated. If there was such a standard it would be an impossible one to achieve in today's world. The National Institute on Drug Abuse controls the supply of cannabis for research in the U.S. and has systematically created a blockade of this type of research in the country.

Sobel notes that he plans to appeal all eight denials and that "medical cannabis is neither a food nor a drug under Arizona law. Cannabis is available not because the federal government or FDA approves of it, but exists because the voters of the state approved a regulated medical marijuana program, and the courts have repeatedly held that their 10th Amendment and non-preemption right to do so," he says/

Enough already Arizona government, enough of the moratorium on administrative rulemaking, enough of the arbitrary interpretations of state laws and because I said so rulemaking. Take your head out of the sand and look around: suicides, prescription pill overdoses and drunk driving all decrease in states with regulated marijuana. The people of Arizona have spoken, medical cannabis is the law of the land.

Please start to follow the law, your own rules and good old-fashioned common sense, and allow the information about these illnesses and the information about our methods be explained at a public hearing.

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