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Arizona awards certificates for pot dispensaries

Arizona officials used a bingo-style machine with sets of numbered air-blown balls Tuesday as they picked winners from among more than 400 applicants for certificates to run 97 medical marijuana dispensaries around the state.

The lottery is a key implementation step for the voter-created health program whose legality is still in question because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Health Services Director Will Humble says applicants allocated dispensary certificates now must file more paperwork and then pass various inspections before getting licenses to operate.

He says some dispensaries could open their doors within weeks but that it may take others until next spring.

Thousands of people already have permits to use medical marijuana, but they’ve had to grow pot or get it from other permitted individuals until dispensaries begin operating.

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