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AZ MMJ Program | Cannabis Policy


November is the month of Thanksgiving and a time to eat and get together with those that we love. Let’s take a look at four states in this country of ours and compare the medical marijuana programs of each. You’ll see that Arizona has a ‘cannabis cornucopia‘ found in its medical marijuana program and this is something to be grateful about.


CALIFORNIA

Home of the Emerald Triangle with its lush soil in the upper part of California where most of the cannabis has been grown for many years. The strains with OG in their name stands for ‘Ocean Grown‘ because this strain was grown by the ocean with its salty air.

In 1996, Californians voted and Prop 215 passed which allowed marijuana to be legal for Medical purposes. Thus, the MMJ program had begun in this country.

The AIDS epidemic in the 1980s in the San Francisco area especially, brought cannabis and its usage to help treat AIDS to the forefront of medical cannabis usage. In the underground marijuana scene of California, people like “Brownie Mary”, an elderly volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital, would bake and hand out pot brownies to AIDS patients. She also helped pass Prop 215 and establish the first buyers club which laid the foundation for the modern day dispensary. She was born in 1922 under the name, Mary Jane Rathbun, and she died in 1999. She is the original Mary Jane with a gusto and drive whose work is one of the reasons which eventually lead to the 2016 passing of Prop 64 – the Adult Use of Marijuana Act also known as recreational marijuana usage. Adults aged 21 or over can go to a marijuana dispensary and purchase products. A medical marijuana program also exists in the Golden state.


Hawaii

In 2000, Hawaii became the first state to legalize Medical marijuana through state legislature. This means that a vote was not needed and instead legislature signed it into effect. The cards in Hawaii are called: 329 Registration cards. The Medical Cannabis Registry Program was created in 2000 and is explained in Chapter 329 of the Law. In March of this year, Hawaii announced that they will accept MMJ cards in their dispensaries from other states. So, if you have a MMJ card in Arizona and are going to Hawaii, then bring it along with you and use it there. The selection of products in dispensaries in Hawaii is limited. Only a few selections of edibles in the form of gummies as well as a few strains of flower are available. Hang ten and maybe it will get better, Hawaii.


Vermont

Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State. It is a beautiful mountainous state which is very sustainable. There is a plentitude of Vermont made products such as dairy creameries, home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, coffee, chocolate, beer and maple syrup. The land of Vermont provides marble, granite and slate. With a state motto of ‘Freedom and Unity,’ that is what the state encompasses. In 2004, the Medical Marijuana Program was legalized.

According to Vermont’s Department of Public Safety website, there are FIVE dispensaries in the whole state. MMJ patients have to designate and register with one of those dispensaries to purchase products and can not go to any of the five. Vermont does allow their MMJ patients to grow cannabis plants at home (2 mature plants and 4 immature plants) but patients have to decide: grow it at home or buy it at a dispensary. They can’t do both.

Vermont also has a recreational/adult use marijuana program that passed in 2018 by legislature. It is the first state to legalize adult use marijuana through legislature rather than a voter ballot initiative. Adult use allows the growing of plants and possession of cannabis but adults can not go to a dispensary to purchase any products.


Arizona

In 2010, voters said ‘Yes’ to a MMJ program in the Grand Canyon state. The only improvement to the program came 9 years later when this past August, 2019, the Governor signed a bill lengthening the duration of the MMJ cards from being valid for one year to two. In addition, all products sold in all dispensaries in Arizona will have to be tested for toxins beginning next November of 2020. Arizona has one of the best medical marijuana programs in the country. The abundance and variety of all products available is outstanding. Unlike other states that have a poor selection of edibles (as in Connecticut where cookies, brownies and honey are the few choices), there are many different kinds of edibles available in Arizona. The selection of flower, topicals concentrates and other forms of cannabis are diverse. This is the Wild West. Arizona has its eye on becoming an adult use/recreational state and we will see if it will be on the ballot in November 2020.

Kimberly Landino

Dr. Kimberly Landino has been practicing Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona since 2001. She certifies patients for their MMJ card at All Greens Clinic in Sun City, AZ. Click here for more from Kimberly Landino.


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