Home / Opinion / Commentary / Medical marijuana is a responsible program — reform, don’t repeal

Medical marijuana is a responsible program — reform, don’t repeal

Arizona students say they got pot from card holders

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Arizona’s Medical Marijuana law is two years old. Patients have had the ability to get medical marijuana cards, giving them the legal protection they need. But the regulated dispensary portion of the program that was specifically called for in the law has been delayed due to numerous obstructions and legal challenges from state and local officials, primarily Republicans.

The program passed in 2010, a landslide year for the GOP. At every turn the voter-approved program has survived challenges and finally the first licensed and legal dispensaries are beginning to open up. The world has not ended. Crime has not erupted. Sick people are getting the relief they need.

During the past two years legal challenges and failure to implement the medical marijuana law forced patients to either grow their own medicine, or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. Caregivers resorted to forming so-called private compassion clubs to help patients get their medicine. Many of these were started as altruistic endeavors meant to fill the gap created by the lack of dispensaries. As time passed, many of these unlicensed clubs began exploiting the system and ignored the spirit of the law.

They are not subject to security regulations, zoning regulations, background checks, and oversight by the Arizona Department of Health Services, unlike dispensaries.

A private club does not access the DHS database to ensure that the patient’s card is valid and that they have not purchased more than their allowable amount (to prevent diversion). A dispensary is required to do this.

The very same politicians who created these problems are using them to argue for re-voting. It’s unnecessary. It’s not right. All that’s needed is to enforce the existing law to rid Arizona of unregulated clubs. Both medical marijuana proponents and opponents should seek to shut them down.

Let’s work together with law enforcement and elected officials to ensure that Arizona’s medical marijuana program stays legitimate and does not get co-opted by those who are more concerned about money than patients. That is why we also support tougher penalties for anyone who may be purchasing medical marijuana illegally.

Finally, some $40 million could be provided by our operators to state and local governments through orderly taxes or fees. Attorney General Tom Horne has already opined this could occur, but as we set aside money for this purpose, the state won’t or doesn’t know how to collect it.

The key to this issue is reform, not repeal. For politicians to not allow a voter-approved measure to unfold as voted upon is the height of arrogance. If, after the program is finally given the chance to operate as a regulated product, and then fails to do so, even we will stand up and call for repeal. Until then, relief for patients and reforms should be our rallying cry, not repeal.

— Bill Myer is co-owner of state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary Arizona Organix in Glendale. Ken Sobel is owner of state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary Green Halo in Tucson.


  1. Gotta Love how these dispensary owners, who are charging patients above black market prices, under the guise of non profit compassion are trying to get the state to eliminate the only competition the currently face.

  2. This is the most hypocritical, bias piece of garbage I’ve read so far. To imply that dispensaries are not seeking profit is ridiculous. Dispensaries want a monopoly to bolster their profits, or they wouldn’t be spreading this propaganda. Disgusting.

  3. Agree w the above ve comments but to say anyone, besides a select few isn’t TRYING to profit is bullshit. Clubs like Jim’s (AZ Hydro College aka AZ go green) ruin it for everyone if not staying as close inside the law as possible. Yes I think the 25 mile rule must be reformed, definitely we should be able to grow 12 plants per patient… I do not endorse any dispensary or club or anything here, just speaking my mind as a patient. MARIJUANA MUST BE RESCHEDULED AND LEGAL FOR ALL, ITS SAFER THAN ALCOHOL, we all KNOW this as FACT.

  4. lol too bad the dispensaries dont really check amount ive sen patients get more than they are allowed but its funny drs ill prescribe people up to 240 30mg oxys a month sry but thats way worse than 2.5 oz and sry but for some people 5 oz every 28 days may not be enough meds u do build up a tolerance towards this medicine and u cant OD on so who cares home much i smoke and **** the more patients buy the more tax dollars go back to the state lol idiots

  5. I love the fact I can go to a “store” and “shop” for my medical needs.. it just feels better. u know they aren’t gonna rip you off. your gonna get the right medicine. I hate the price. I am on disability, doesn’t go far. so with that said I am in favor of the dispensary’s, but not about the cost. if infact the people are there for the patient not the money, prices would not be as such…. I know they are not paying 190.oo for a half… no way no how… that’s why we still go to compassion centers… a granite coffee table is not a necessity in the waiting room… just saying… cut out all the bs and give us our meds at a reasonable price….

  6. This is so stupid. What does profit matter? The patients’ best interests are served by the greatest number of choices — regardless of whether they make a profit. The world is built on profit and it is really a stupid idea to expect that all these patients will be served by the tiny number of people willing to work for minimum wage. That is pretty unreliable.

    Profit brings more distributors, who have to compete with each other and therefore have to watch their quality and prices or they will go out of business. That helps patients.

    Besides, this is a risky business that can still land people in Federal prison. If they take the risk, they deserve the appropriate compensation.

    This idea that everyone should get their medicines through some small, holy group of people who are keeping the faith pure is just ridiculous. Let the patients get their meds from whatever source they can, and give them lots of choices. This stupid stuff about “non-profit” actually hurts the patients by restricting access.

  7. “Let’s work together with law enforcement and elected officials to ensure that Arizona’s medical marijuana program stays legitimate and does not get co-opted by those who are more concerned about money than patients. That is why we also support tougher penalties for anyone who may be purchasing medical marijuana illegally.”

    And who wrote the above? and do they have a vested financial interest in this? Let’s see now….

    “Bill Myer is co-owner of state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary Arizona Organix in Glendale. Ken Sobel is owner of state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary Green Halo in Tucson.”

    The very simple and to the point Legalise Cannabis International response to the above article is this:

    February 12, 2013: “It is now obvious that some MMJ campaign groups are advocating penalties (or higher penalties) for non-medical cannabis users. The LCI response, therefore, is this – LCI NO LONGER SUPPORTS THE MMJ CAMPAIGN. LCI only campaigns for the general legalized use of cannabis for ALL adult users – irrespective of the reason for use.”

  8. We saw a lot of this sicker-than-thou stuff in California. The idea is that marijuana must be kept holy. It is only for the sickest people and no profit must be involved.

    As if these same rules applied to any other drug on this planet.

    Well then, where do we draw the line on who is sick enough to need medical mj? The answer always is “I am sick enough, but I am not so sure about you.” Wherever the line may be drawn, they are included, but the “fakers” are not. In order to secure their own supply, they will happily throw anyone else under the legal bus.

    The primary point to recognize here is that there never was any sensible reason to punish anyone for using marijuana for any reason. It doesn’t matter whether they had a “valid medical reason” or not — punishment for marijuana use doesn’t make sense at all. (See the short history of the mj laws http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm )

    Not that the authors of this piece could give a clear, objective medical definition for exactly who “deserves” medical marijuana and who doesn’t. But that isn’t their fault — nobody can.

    Then there is this thing about “profit”. “Profit” is presumed to be bad. This is the idea that producers of marijuana will happily go to a lot of work and expense, and considerable legal risk, to provide for sick people purely out of the goodness of their heart.

    Then there is reality. Reality is that what benefits the patients the most (isn’t that why we are here? The patients?) is the greatest availability at the lowest price. A lot of patients have problems with both traveling and spare cash, so “close by” and “economical” really help. How do we get “close by” and “economical”? We get it by competition among suppliers. We get competition among suppliers when there are a lot of people who want to do the supplying.

    The way we get a lot of people to do the supplying is “profit.” We allow them to do what everyone else does with every other drug on the market — make a profit. “Profit” is why there are hundreds of dispensaries as choices for patients in Los Angeles.

    What you see in the authors of this piece is a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. It is the old Uncle Tom syndrome from the civil rights era. These guys are so eager to be friends with the authorities that they will shuck and jive right along with the prohibitionists.

    I have news for you, guys. The people who want these restrictions are really NOT your friends. They will never be happy. They will always be placing limits that have only one major effect — harming sick people for no good purpose at all.

  9. Excuse me. First there was no system to access to check. But every club kept records, intensely complete records. Now there is a system, but they can not access it without a license. God is the only one that trust a pot smokers honesty, come on. Us patients that need the benefits of marijuana would no way put our privileges at state by lying.

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