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Legislation takes on medical marijuana labeling, cultivation in Arizona

Authorities in Yavapai County last year seized items packaged like candy and food that they said was marketed as medical marijuana. A state lawmaker says such items, when legally sold, should be clearly labeled as medical marijuana. (Photo Courtesy of the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office)

Authorities in Yavapai County last year seized items packaged like candy and food that they said was marketed as medical marijuana. A state lawmaker says such items, when legally sold, should be clearly labeled as medical marijuana. (Photo Courtesy of the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office)

For Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, some edible medical marijuana products are too easy to mistake for candy and should be labeled clearly by law.

Along with a group of rural lawmakers, Yee also says counties need more leeway under state law to regulate where medical marijuana may be cultivated.

Those are among several bills this legislative session addressing how the medical marijuana system Arizona voters approved in 2010 should work.

Yee authored four of the measures.

“I’ve sponsored medical marijuana bills for the past two years,” she said. “It’s the Legislature’s role in implementing new laws to find the loopholes that affect public safety.”

With SB 1440, Yee seeks to require the Arizona Department of Health Services to revoke a dispensary’s certification if it mislabels its products or services as being for anything other than medicinal use.

Sharing photos of candy bars, lollipops and other food items that she said could be mistaken for something other than medical marijuana, especially by children, Yee said the products should be labeled clearly.

“These could be on someone’s kitchen table and anyone could pick it up and ingest it not knowing it contains marijuana,” she said.

The Senate endorsed the bill, forwarding it to the House.

SB 1098, authored by Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, addresses a provision of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act that allows cardholders living more than 25 miles away from a dispensary to grow 12 plants in an enclosed, locked area.

Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, a primary sponsor of the bill, said that raises the possibility that cardholders in rural areas could grow medical marijuana as a group.

“We’ll end up with literally acres of marijuana being grown in a co-op,” she said.

The bill, which has won Senate approval and an endorsement from the House Agriculture and Water Committee, would exempt marijuana cultivation from the general agricultural uses of land that county zoning ordinances can’t restrict under state law.

One medical marijuana proposal going nowhere this session is HCR 2003, in which Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, sought another statewide vote on whether to have medical marijuana in Arizona. The measure wasn’t taken up in committee.

Among the other bills that are advancing, Yee’s SB 1441 would allow law enforcement agencies to dispose of medical marijuana seized during criminal investigations.

She said law enforcement faces a dilemma in returning seized medical marijuana because it’s a federally banned substance.

“If it’s seized, the police don’t maintain the plant during the investigation,” Yee said. “If the plant is returned, it’s not in the same condition as before and loses the value.”

That bill won Senate approval and was awaiting action in the House.

Yee’s SB 1443 would allow medical marijuana research on college and university campuses. It won Senate approval and was awaiting action in the House.

Yee said marijuana is banned on university campuses, but some, like the University of Arizona, receive funding for research on medical marijuana.

Sara Presler, executive director of the Maricopa County Medical Society, told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that the research would still be closely monitored and that researchers would be held responsible for any violations of the law.

“The most important thing that we can do with this topic is to understand and research it so we have the necessary information to make public police,” she said.

Medical marijuana bills:

SB 1098:

• Author: Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott
• Provisions: Would grant counties zoning authority over marijuana cultivation.
• Status: Passed the full Senate and endorsed by the House Agriculture and Water committee

SB 1440

• Author: Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix
• Provisions: Would require all products containing medical marijuana to clearly display that the items contain marijuana for medical purposes only. It would also require the Department of Health Services to revoke a dispensary’s certification if it labels medical marijuana products or services for anything other than medical use.
• Status: Passed the full Senate and awaiting House action.

SB 1441

• Author: Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix
• Provisions: Would require law enforcement agencies to dispose of medical marijuana seized during criminal investigations.
• Status: Passed the full Senate and awaiting House action.

SB 1442

• Author: Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix
• Provisions: Would make a technical change to a law that prohibiting medical marijuana cardholders to possess or use the substance near child care facilities.
• Status: Passed the full Senate and awaiting House action.

SB 1443

• Author: Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix
• Provisions: Would allow medical marijuana research on college campuses.
• Status: Passed the full Senate and awaiting House action.

4 comments

  1. What the Hell? Pugs can take medicine and not give it back? That’s theft. We are talking medical marijuana right? This crazy Yee lady knitted nothing about medicine, marijuana, or civil rights, obviously. It is her job to find loopholes? I thought she was a representative of the voters. Guess not. So now she wants the piggies to simply raid whoever they want and have no repercussion for errors. Thus is America? So if granny who has cancer gets raided she is out electricity money, and any other spent on equipment and such. This is another Republican who hasn’t done their homework, and lives in the reefer madness era still. Nobody trusts the police already, and this idiot wants to give them access to peoples medicine to steal and destroy. Ate we raiding for other possible medicines that could beer abused? No. This is medicine, and obviously this Yee dunce knows more than doctors, and is willing to let people suffer because she is ignorant of the medical value, and has constituents to coddle. That’s how republicans operate. Shame on this stupid stupid lady for such a lack of compassion.

  2. The rules of evidence have been established over hundreds of years and are not likely to be changed by the courts over a mean spirited and ill conceived state law. After the courts award damages to patients for the police destroying evidence the law will get thrown out of court. When they did this in California the police agency had to repay the medical marijuana patient at their own inflated estimate of value that they had reported to the newspapers… I do think that labeling edibles makes good sense. I also think that the real problem is that they do not understand how beneficial marijuana is as medicine. They do not know or do not care how much it is able to help the people who rely on it to improve their health. It is without a doubt one of the most effective natural herbal medicines that God has produced for humanity. No law can change that.

  3. It is great to hear that we are pushing forward with encouraging research into the plant’s medical implications, and at the U of A no less, where there are already many scientifically-minded thinkers championing the cause of exploring just how much THC is capable of doing in conjunction with our bodies. Hopefully our already fruitful understanding of the endocannabinoid system can improve and we can recognize what is simply a viable and healthy option to treat people’s ailments; one many people simply don’t consider. It’s also more than logical enough to label the products, and 1441 seems like the issue with the most considerations to make and the most thought needed for a solution, given the possible variability between situation to situation involving cultivation, but I am glad to see that steps are being taken to understand the myriad of health benefits the plant provides and to ensure the plant is not being taken advantage of or misdistributed.

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