Lawmakers in Arizona have co-sponsored a bill that would essentially render the state’s medical cannabis program obsolete if passed. Fifteen lawmakers have proposed the bill, which would cap the potency of medical cannabis in the state at just 2%, reports AZ Marijuana.
If the bill passes, about 200,000 patients in Arizona would basically be reduced to purchasing cannabis that is close to the potency of hemp. This would likely cause the medical cannabis market in the state to dissolve, putting dispensaries out of business and forcing patients to obtain the plant medicine through an unregulated marketplace out-of-state.
“A registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary may not dispense to a qualifying patient or a designated caregiver medical marijuana with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of more than two percent,” HCR 2045 reads.
The language contained in the bill is highly unclear, and doesn’t specify whether the 2% limit would apply to dried, cured flower, concentrates, or both. The way the bill reads, it indicates that it is likely written by prohibitionists who don’t understand the intricacies of the legal cannabis market. The good news for patients in the Grand Canyon state is that laws pertaining to voter-approved medical cannabis programs aren’t easy to change.
Despite the fact that the legislation is unlikely to pass due to its potentially unconstitutional nature, it once again displays the tone-deaf nature of prohibitionists. Some cannabis advocates in the state are saying that Arizona lawmakers are telling patients to go smoke hemp.
It is also curious that state lawmakers would want to cut off a market that drives some significant tax revenue, as well as providing much-needed jobs. The Arizona Dispensaries Association estimates that medical cannabis sales in 2019 year brought in $46 million in state and local tax dollars. Those funds are supposed to be put to use by local governments to “fix roads, support education and preserve public safety.”
This isn’t the first time that Arizona has faced some issues with their medical cannabis program. A year ago, a state House panel approved a bill that legalized extracts under the laws of the medical cannabis program. Last summer, state auditors had alleged that regulators failed to properly inspect dispensaries and other facilities. The auditors also alleged that funds were misappropriated and that registration cards weren’t revoked from patients who engaged in illegal activity.
There is clearly some work that needs to be done for the medical cannabis program in Arizona, including educating lawmakers on the benefits of cannabis and why 2% THC wouldn’t provide much medical value to patients.