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Speakers at Medical Marijuana Hearing Criticize Strong Regulations

Rich 2011-02-27 0 comments

By Ray Stern | Published in Pheonixnewtimes.com

"Brett" was among dozens of speakers at today's medical marijuana hearing in Tempe.

Here are some quotes from speakers at today’sĀ medical marijuana hearing about the proposed regulations.

The entire speech of each individual isn’t represented. We’re not trying to record all the thank-yous to DHS (of which there are many), just the parts we found interesting (and what we could catch.) When we refer to the rules here, we’re referring to the second draft of proposed DHS rules. Also, we guessed at the spelling of the speakers’ names. If we messed up your name, please shoot us a line and we’ll correct the post.

Here goes:

Cancer patient: The cost of growing, if each person has to have their own facilities, will drive up the costs.

I think there needs to be three licenses.
Everything speaks to dispensaries, and then we hear about growing.
There have to be separate, licensed growers.
[Large burst of applause.]

You probably need to look at the caretaker situation.

(Lots of people here) want to be caretakers.

[Raises his voice like a union boss, saying he doesn’t want people from California and Colorado coming here and taking over. Lots of clapping for that one.]

Now, when we talk about money, it’s very easy for this panel to qualify people. Do you have investors? Who are the investors?

Who determines (which qualified applicants should get a license?)

Let me tell you, in my business experience, doctors are poor businessmen. [Laughter].

Travis Figueroa, from Phoenix, Arizona:
I’m basically here to make DHS and the board aware that, uh, a third of our current economy is held by our agriculture center. These people (take their quality very serious) on a day-to-day basis.

I was sad to see there were no provisions for the horticulturists of Arizona.

There will not be the supply to meet the demand of the users here, the potential qualifying patients.

Therefore, I feel there should be some sort of cultivation license added to the licenses.

Gordon McGuire:
(Asks the crowd: If there were no dispensaries, is there anybody who wouldn’t grow their own? Nobody raises a hand.)

Most people want to grow their own, is my point.

I have KT. (A syndrome. He talks about the treatment of his syndrome. He has pain, swelling, other symptoms.)

I also disagree with (qualifying questionable ailments like post-traumatic stress disorder.)

Alexander Wick, Arizona native:
(Dad started oldest boarding school in Arizona. From 1997 to 2007, was a quadiplegic after a car accident. Alex helped take care of him.)

The main point I’m making is that nothing’s perfect. What I saw him go through in a hospital, with what you get prescribed today… It’s a joke.

In 1994, down at U of A, where I graduated a few years later, I had a Drugs and Society class. (A teacher who said he partook for 15 years until it made him go to sleep too much. Talked about someone who smoked pot and had the desire to kill a woman he saw walking by.)

Every person in this room is affected by propaganda.

I know for a fact it works. I know for a fact that many people need this medicine.

You guys are on a board… for a medicine you did no research for?

I want a dispensary, too.

I noticed right away, money is the No. 1 factor for people involved in this.

But nobody’s worried about the patients. (Applause.)

Every doctor right now can prescribe deadly Rx medications to a 3-year-old. They can. That’s the truth.

(Marijuana) is absolutely harmless, it really is.
Robert Smith:
I stand before you today as a disabled veteran and a potential qualified patient. (He’s wearing a sleeveless red Vietnam veteran shirt.)

(Asks how to submit an application.)

(Thomas Salow, DHS manager of the Office of Administrative Counsel and Rules, says he’s not going to answer questions, but to stay tuned and “we’ll inform the public” about the applications.)

(Robert asks whether his card will be recognized in other states, and whether card-holders from other states will be recognized here. As far asĀ New Times knows, only the latter is true.)
Matthew McGow, Dexstar Marijuana Medical Services:

My fellow Arizona citizen, if they’re interested in this, they’re going to need what they need to do to operate a qualified dispensary.

(Talks about why he started his company, how he wants to help the smaller would-operators open a store. Seems like he’s advertising a little…)

I’m wondering if you guys are going to write anything in there about obtaining seeds.

(Says he’ll be outside passing out fliers.)
Brett:

Supersize me. There’s room for mom-and-pop shops, and there should be in this industry.

I know everybody in here can point to a number of restaurants (that might not be to the highest standards, but have great food.)

(If people care about patients,) they should have the right to be successful.

(RS: For more information about the burgeoning marijuana industry,Ā see our recent feature article, Pot of Gold.)

(Back toĀ Brett: Notes that pharmacies don’t have limits like the ones being imposed on dispensaries.)

Let’s not mention bars. No medicinal value to alcohol. Destructive to society. No patient use.

This is an herb.

This is a god-given herb, and the War on Drugs never worked. It’s not going to suppress this. Over-regulation is not going to help this. Effective regulation will.

We need to let it breathe.

(Says theĀ proposed CHAA system of distributing dispensaries is too arbitrary.)

Regarding some of the standards, I appreciate the department is concerned about what we ingest. They want people to wash their hand after handling marijuana plants. Do they require that of broccoli growers?

Businesses should be able to be open on Saturdays.

There’s no good reason why Saturday should not be an open day to take in business. (It’s later noted that cities, not the state, are regulating the hours of dispensaries.)

Dr. Don W. Hill, Casa Grande,
Been practicing cancer medicine in the state of Arizona for 24 years now.

(Was granted an experimental license for pot from 2006 to 2010.)

(After that, couldn’t get it. My patients have tried to get me to open a medical marijuana distributorship.)

(Says 30 percent of his patients over the years have used marijuana for pain and nausea. When utilized with opiate-based drugs, marijuana is effective.)

It helps get patients over the hump sometimes.

I know my patients are using it clandestinely, and whatever gets them through is okay by me.

I am fundamentally opposed to a lottery system if there is one or more potential lottery applicant in a CHAA zone.

(Perhaps the least qualified owner will end up owning a dispensary.)

(DHS needs to consider the qualities of dispensaries, and where all the profits would go.)

It makes sense to spread out the dispensaries to limit people from growing their own.

However, if you look at the number of patients in a given CHAA, (it goes up to 190,000 people.)

It’s madness to think one dispensary could meet the needs of (that many patients.)

I think it makes more sense (to base it on population base.)

If a CHAA zone has 190,000 people, that would probably support 15 medical marijuana clinics. A small, rural area (with 2,000 residents) might not support any at all.

(On medical supervision and need for medical director — he thinks it’s important to keep recreational users out of the program.)

(Says he’s a libertarian and won’t judge smokers. But it’s fallacious to say it’s harmless. There are lots of carcinogens in pot smoke.)

(A medical director could explain the pros and cons of delivery system.)

I’ve seen two head and neck cancer patients in the last two years who were marijuana smokers only, not cigarette smokers.

(Pot system could alleviate financial strain of state. But 300 percent or 100 percent tax is “absolutely absurd.)

(The product has to be priced reasonably. If not, people may still try to buy on black market.)
Tom Salow asks to avoid repetition and notes the line is the same size as when the hearing started. It’s 5:30 p.m. and the hearing has an hour left.

We’ll let you digest these comments and prepare another blog post for the last hour.

Dr. Robert May:
It appears DHS has decided to treat medical marijuana (like street pot.)

In your rules, there’s a definite unwritten but still obvious stigma (placed on dispensary owners, growers and patients.)

You’re protecting yourselves. You’re making it hard on everybody. Medical marijuana in Arizona, if given the same attention to detail as other drugs, will be welcome addition to physicians in Arizona.

It will provide the state through licensing and fees with a new source of revenue, if it’s not over-taxed.

It should make a noticeable difference on the amount of illicit marijuana coming across the border from Mexico.

Want to address three points in the rules. The first requires the hiring of a medical director. (He notes that pharmacies don’t have to do that.) And yet the same pharmacies dispense (far more deadly drugs than marijuana.)

Since marijuana cannot be consumed on the premises of a dispensary, there’s no immediate need for a medical director to be the premises.

The attending physician has always been and must always be the responsible party for the health of their patients.

The consultation between the dispensary and the attending physician … will be carried out by a telephone. It doesn’t require a doctor being there in the dispensary.

Maria Silva, (in Colorado), received the wrong prescription from a Safeway pharmacy. She was given an abortion pill. It was on the news.

I did some research on this. Deaths from prescription drugs is the fourth leading cause of deaths in this country. That’s from the FDA’s stats.

On WebMD … they found 5,366 improper medication reports to police.

I don’t know of any deaths from marijuana, and I’ve been in the field for 40-plus years.

I heard there was one death, but I don’t know how it occurred unless he was smothered by bales and bales of marijuana. (Laughter from audience.)

The DHS makes no provisions for supplying a dispensary. (Dispensaries should have an 18-month window to get marijuana supplies from California.)

We can’t (go into business on May 1). Unless we violate the law by growing marijuana right now, it’s impossible.

Jeff Smith — says he’s not dangerous despite the hair style. (He sports a mohawk.)

It’s all about supply and demand. Obviously, there is a demand in this state for medical marijuana.

 

Why are we allowing dispensaries to supply their own marijuana. (The pot that’s already out there should be bought in a central buyer’s market.)

And maintain a price that people are willing to pay.

From 1983 to 1999, this was legal in the state of Arizona. The Department of Revenue issued (tax stamps). Nobody had a problem for 16 years, until too many people found out they could start buying and selling marijuana.

I don’t know what my point is here. I’m trying to say please have patience with what’s going on. This is interesting for me to see, I’m 45 years old. Since I was in diapers…

(“Draft rules!” somebody calls.)

I’ve used and sold marijuana to doctors, laywers, anybody that wanted it.

Kimberly Hazzit, representing Southwest Patience Alliance:

I would like to offer a really easy solution for you.

I’m asking you to simply follow the law. Treat it like a medicine. We’re not drug dealers.

Where it says minimum, that’s what I’m asking you to do. Minimum oversight.

The more difficult you make this, the happier the attorneys of the state of Arizona are going to be.

Take a yellow highlighter and keep two things in mind: Medicine, minimal.

Danny Hardesty:
I’m representing myself as a disabled person that doens’t have any money.

Take the draft rules and take everything out that is not Constitutional and my right.

Corey Tishka:
(Talks about PTSD and how people can apply to add it in as a qualifying ailment).

I would like the department to expedite this process for PTSD.

Our veterans deserve their medicine without having to go the street to get it.

I do like how you raised the residency requirement from two years to three years.

The lottery system, mmm, gosh, I’m kind of torn.

We want the people running the dispensaries to be of the highest caliber.

Laura Russin:
I would like to open an infusion facility and make edibles.

I’m someone who would qualify to be a patients. My (doctor) says out of fear he will not be giving any patients prescriptions because he thinks the law would come back on him.

I have never partaken of marijuana personally in my life.

Smoking would not be an option for me.

I’d probably be the one fatality because I would not know what I was doing.

I’m a really good baker. I make really yummy products. And I’d like to help people by enjoying something tasty that also helps them, as well.

How do I contract with a dispensary if I can’t show them my product, if I don’t know who these dispensaries are going to be? I would need to contract with many dispensaries.

Usually, as in the case when you make edibles and you infuse things. You’re using the dispensaries’ waste products. (Leaves, parts of buds, etc.)

The rules say the waste should be disposed of properly, but don’t say what it means. That needs to be clarified.

(If I turn waste products into cookies and yummy products, does she need separate inventory control on all that? She wants clarity on that.)

Paul Schroeder, Gilbert resident:

I’m a potential dispensary operator in Gilbert. Although I do care very deeply for the patients as well. It’s not all about the business interests.

(Has comment on the CHAA zones. Seems to say that Gilbert needs to be allowed more dispensary licenses.)

By default, if you do not receive a qualified application for a CHAA … that it goes by default to the next CHAA over. (He thinks that would give Gilbert an extra one.)

Patients get some competition. That competition will lead to a higher quality medicine.

Larry Cook, a disabled veteran:

(Wants to talk about cultivation sites. Should have rural areas be cultivation for urban spots.)

Law enforcement, code enforcement and other processes would be cut in half for that city (which contracts for a rural cultivation area.)
Dr. Joel Colly, been in practice for 30 years:

(Wants to open a dispensary.)

I’m a pain control specialist and an anesthesiologist.

All the good work your committe has done will be negated if you continue with a lottery process.

(Points out anĀ Arizona Republic article that has an ad for a company that offers about $160,000 a year if you are the front person for a dispensary.)

The lottery, the final process will completely undo what you’ve tried to do. (It’ll encourage dirty money to taint the process.)

Like it or not, you cannot start a business without capital.

You just can’t come in off the street and start a business and expect it to work. If you bring outside money in to back the lucky person … it’ll be a matter of time (before some unsavory person comes along.)

We want a true non-profit corporation.

How will you watch these not-for-profit corporations who have all kinds of games they can play? (To hide the profits.)

(Wants to see oversight of that.)

Resa Backshire:
(Doesn’t like the lottery or the requirement for a dispensary to have lots of capital on hand.)

Trust has nothing to do with capital. (Points out that large corporations with lots of capital still screw people over.)

I’m a successful business owner in Arizona.

(High taxes will feed the black market.)

They’ll do it without the cards … instead of doing it the right way.

(Talks about how his girlfriend and two relatives had cancer.) The use of marijuana absolutely does help.

Don’t require a capital investment as a measure of integrity and trust.

You need to delete the lottery, delete the capital, and make it available to patients.

(Says draft rules were thoughtfully drafted.)

Despite the numerous positive, (the bad parts of the draft rules will impede the industry and patient access to medicine.)

(Lottery winners can sell their licenses to the highest bidder.)

Applications should be reviewed by the DHS. (Winners should be awarded based on qualifications and experience.)
Deena Dedejobi —
I have absolutely no interest in a dispensary.

I want to make sure the right people open a dispensary for the right reasons.

(She represents a doctor. He thinks the lottery system shouldn’t be implemented.)

Lottery selections (allow disreputable dispensary owners in.)

(Suggests $1,000 fees for each step of process for owners.)

The CHAA zones won’t work. (The population is too low in some places to support a dispensary.)

Why not a 24-hour dispensary? (She thinks it should be okay.)

(Panelist Tom Salow cuts in to say that DHS does not regulate the hours of operation in the draft — that’s a city zoning issue.)

(Deena mentions that we need “geothermal” to save Arizona and our planet.)

Salow — We’ll stay an extra couple of minutes. (He notes that the panel will meet in Tucson tomorrow, then come back to Tempe at 9 a.m. on Thursday.)
Guy in baseball hat — (Says he’ll go to Amsterdam, buy seeds and bring them back.)

I’m not scared.

(Still nine people in line to speak.)

The dispensaries, this whole process is shady.

(People start yelling at him, saying he’s not talking about the rules.)

Ruben:
I’ve been doing this for a couple of years here in California.

(Says he doesn’t like how the law prohibits growing pot if a dispensary is less than 25 miles away.)

(Talks about the collective growing process in California. People put in their own money, get medicine from the collective. People clap.)

(He’s an advocate of organic medicine. Talks about indoor growing.)

Indoors, you cannot be truly organic inside of a room.

(“Yes, you can!” someone shouts from the crowd.)

I would like to put in there that outdoor greenhouses (are acceptable for cultivating medicinal pot.)

When the DEA comes … are they just going to be able to access this database and go to the houses of dispensary owners and patients.

Tom Salow: I plan on writing some FAQs. (That can address many of the questions brought up at these hearings.)

Salow notes that people can submit electronic responses on theĀ DHS Web site.

(People start bitching that they didn’t get time to speak.)

Salow — I have to afford the opportunity to everyone for three hours. I will stick around if anyone wants to present some comments. (And people can submit responses through the Web site.)