Today’s video is about HB2082, which is an attempt to further restrict medical marijuana and adult use marijuana. In my opinion, it is government overreach. Although medical marijuana and adult use are legal in Arizona and although the state is making bank on the sales, there are still people who believe in overregulation.
The age old question is: Should marijuana be regulated like other legal recreational drugs (like alcohol and nicotine) OR like prescription drugs (since medical marijuana is technically a prescription) OR like a traditional herbal remedy?
The LD9 Town Hall on August 19 featured presentations by David Lujan of the Center for Economic Progress and Marilyn Rodriguez of Creosote Partners on the four Citizens Initiatives that have been battling in court to get on the November 2020 ballot.
All four initiatives — Invest in Ed (public education funding), Smart and Safe (legalization of adult use marijuana), Second Chances (prison and sentencing reform) and Healthcare Rising (stop surprise billing) — were challenged in court by those who profit from the current broken systems and want to protect those systems.
In the four videos, Lujan and Rodriguez do a great job of outlining the layers of legal challenges that each of the four Citizens Initiatives faced at the hands of Republican Legislators, the Chamber of Commerce, two retiring Pima County Democrats, and others who want to maintain the status quo in education funding, marijuana policing, prison sentences and time served, and privatized, for-profit healthcare.
It’s interesting to hear about the behind-the-scenes political maneuver by Republican Legislators and Ducey’s judges in an all-out attempt to keep all four of these initiatives off the ballot. As of this writing, Invest in Ed (Prop 208) and Smart and Safe (Prop 207) will be on the ballot. Second Chances was knocked off the ballot by separate legal challenges from retiring Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and retiring Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez. (Why?!)
On the Floor of the House on Tuesday, Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Reps. Warren Petersen, Kelli Butler, Isela Blanc and I had a rousing debate over Bowers’ HCR2045.
You may remember that I mentioned this bill a few weeks ago in a blog post about Reefer Madness. HCR2045 has been amended. The worst part of it is gone, but it’s still bad.
HCR2045 is the bill in which Bowers wanted to artificially lower the amount of THC in products sold in Arizona to 2%. This is a politically motivated, artificial limit on a chemical compound found in a plant that has been used as an herbal remedy for CENTURIES and has never killed anyone. HCR2045 would destroy successful small businesses by eliminating their products from the market, hurt patients, cripple the medical marijuana program, and revive the black market.
Feb. 20 was another very long Thursday with the House Health and Human Services Committee starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m., with no lunch and a few hours in between for floor action and introductions. Thank goodness I had time to eat a yogurt cup and apple slices that were in my refrigerator. I had other food, but I never had time to sit down and eat it.￼ (Thank goodness I ate a hearty breakfast.￼)
Thursday’s low point was in the afternoon when the Republicans passed more than $300 million in tax giveaways in two bills. There are more than a dozen additional tax breaks in the House queue, alone. What the Republicans are doing with these tax giveaways is so incredibly irresponsible… but I digress.
Anyway, today’s video is about the high point of the day (no pun intended) when four marijuana bills passed the health committee, including my bill HB 2840, giving medical marijuana patients the choice between electronic medical marijuana cards and physical cards.
￼There are four medical marijuana bills (not all good) on the House Health and Human Services Committee agenda for tomorrow, Thursday, February 20.
One of them is my bill, HB 2840. This and my other 2020 medical marijuana bill HB2838 are patient choice legislation. If you have been following my healthcare bills this year, you know that I have proposed several patient choice bills. I believe in patient choice across the healthcare spectrum from reproductive choice to death with dignity and everything in between. ￼￼
Beginning in December 2019, the Arizona Department of Health Services switched all medical marijuana patients from a plastic identification card to an electronic ID. In my opinion, the patients were not adequately notified, and furthermore, they were not given a choice regarding plastic or electronic. Thousands of medical marijuana patients are over 80 years old. Thousands are over 60. Thousands more live in rural areas with limited Internet access.
HB2840 simply says that patients should be able to choose between a physical medical marijuana card and an electronic card.
Thirty-four states have some form of legal marijuana. Arizona is the only state that has no quality control testing for contaminants (like pesticides) or for make-up (how much THC, CBDs, etc.)
Cannabis testing died at the end of the session in 2018 during a flurry of negotiations regarding several marijuana reform bills. It is back in 2019 as SB1494, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee last week. This is a clean cannabis testing bill with no other issues attached.
Arizona has 200,000 medical marijuana patients who purchased 61 tons of marijuana and related marijuana products, like edibles and concentrates, in 2018. Ours is the third largest program in the country… and the only one with no quality control testing.
In committee, the governmental liaison for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Shannon Whitaker said that they don’t know how to do quality control testing for marijuana and want more specifics on what to do. I asked if anyone at ADHS had looked at the testing standards and programs from the other 33 states, and she said, “No”. Looking at how other health departments are testing samples of marijuana could be very helpful in setting up the Arizona program. Just sayin’.
Before I voted “yes” on SB 1494, I talked with the lobbyists on both sides of the issue, medical marijuana patient and NORML representative Mikel Weisser, and former ADHS Director and current Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association Will Humble. Humble, who wrote the current medical marijuana rules, said that testing is in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). He had planned to write testing rules back in 2011, but he was pressed for time with a 120 day window to write all of the rules. He added that he “was getting beat up from all sides” during the process. (I confessed that I was blogging about the card costs, which are the highest in the country.) Humble supports SB1494 but adds that ADHS has the authority to write rules on testing, even without SB1494.
ADHS is sitting on $60 million in card fees that can be spent only on the medical marijuana program. It’s time to protect patients. It’s time for Arizona to spend some of those AMMA funds to write the rules and set up testing.
SB1494 was debated at length in the House Health and Human Services Committee last Friday and passed unanimously. Since almost everything we do is on video, you can watch the debate on the AZLeg website. Click on Archived Meetings and scroll down to House Health and Human Services on March 29, 2018. You have time to voice your opinion on Request to Speak.
Look for amendments and a rousing debate on this in the coming weeks.