AZ: Medical marijuana gets moving

AZ: Medical marijuana gets moving
It’s a busy week for Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, who’s putting the final touches on the application process for medical marijuana cardholders.

At the same time, one group is calling for his resignation.

Today is opening day for medical marijuana, when Arizonans with chronic illnesses can apply for patient cards to use medical marijuana legally.

Humble said about 40 cardholders had been approved so far today, and 10 had been turned down. The first applicant was a 60-year-old man from Scottsdale suffering from Crohn’s disease, he said.

Those who were turned down had problems submitting clear photos and will have an opportunity to resubmit better photos, Humble said. One applicant sent in a picture of himself on his motorcycle.

“It needs to be more like a driver’s license picture,” Humble said.

There were a few kinks in the online application process, but those are getting worked out, he said.

The system is available 24/7, which meant Humble needed to train an additional 20 ADHS workers this week in case of a backlog.

He noticed many online applicants didn’t have their proper documentation in order. He recommended that before starting their online applications, individuals load onto their computers an electronic copy of their photo ID; a current digital photograph; an electronic copy of their physician’s certification form; and an electronic copy of their attestation. Also, if they participate in the SNAP program for food stamps, they can submit that documentation electronically for a 50 percent discount.

Applicants also will need a Visa or Mastercard for payment.

“I do sympathize with those who are not all that computer-literate,” he said, adding that applicants might want to consider getting a family member or friend to help them with the process.

Humble will speak tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Green Relief Medical Marijuana Convention and Expo at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. His presentation will be followed by four panel discussions: law enforcement at 3 p.m., attorneys at 4 p.m., doctors at 5 p.m. and industry professionals at 6 p.m.

Lisa Wolfe, founder of Big Truck Media Group LLC, organized the convention. She said she is honored that Humble accepted the invitation to speak at the event.

Humble said he has received numerous requests for speaking engagements. He accepted one with Valley Partnership for an event at the end of the month for law firms and city planners.

But there is one group he has rejected: the Arizona Association of Dispensary Professionals Inc., led by director Allan Sobol.

Humble’s staff screens a group’s reputation before accepting any engagement.

“I don’t go to speaking engagements where I believe my appearance could present a bad image for the department,” he said. “(Sobol) is disappointed I won’t speak to his group. I’m not confident he is running a professional organization. I’m sorry, but the image he has portrayed is not something I want to have our department associated with.”

Sobol sent a letter to the media, Gov. Jan Brewer, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, all Arizona legislators and the U.S. Justice Department late last night, demanding Humble’s removal or resignation.

Sobol said Humble spoke the Medical Marijuana Policy Project and the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, led by Joe Yuhas and Andrew Meyers, and gave inside information about the medical marijuana dispensary application process.

“All of my clients aren’t getting this information,” Sobol said. “This is supposed to be a fair playing field. Everyone is supposed to have equal access to the same set of rules. The relationship between Humble and the MMPP needs to be disclosed to the public.”

Sobol said Humble changed some of the language in the final rules released March 28. He said the language differs from the rules filed yesterday with the Secretary of State’s Office, which were posted today on its website,

Humble said there were no wholesale changes to the final version, just clarifications.

For example, one of his employees who’s been monitoring Facebook dialogue within the dispensary community noticed they had come up with a scheme to get around the requirement to prove they have $150,000 to build a facility.

Their plan was to get a $150,000 deposit at Bank A and get a letter from that bank saying they had $150,000 on deposit. The next day, they would withdraw that money and deposit it at Bank B, getting a letter from that bank attesting the group had $150,000 in deposits; then keep doing that so they could apply for multiple dispensaries, Humble said.

“We clarified that portion of the rule to say you had to demonstrate that line of credit had been in existence for at least 30 days, so they can’t just do a shell game,” Humble said. “We are going to be taking these applications in June, and there would not be enough time to move (the money) before applications are due.”

He said he mentioned to MMPP that he had noticed this scheme in the works and that he would have to address it somehow, but said he didn’t give the group any inside information.[/FONT]