Medical marijuana legalization in Arizona was approved on the ballot in November 2010. That means that qualifying patients and designated caregivers now have access to cannabis-based medicine.
What Patients Need to Know
Eligibility: Patients who are diagnosed with one or more of the following medical conditions may be eligible for a medical marijuana card:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
If you have a debilitating condition that is not listed above, the state of Arizona allows you to request the addition of your condition. Your request must include the following components:
- The name of the condition
- A description of the symptoms, including why those symptoms are debilitating
- A description of the conventional therapies currently used to treat the condition
- A summary of evidence justifying the use of cannabis to treat the condition
- Peer-reviewed articles published in scientific journals supporting the use of cannabis as a treatment of the condition
The state will review these requests in January and July of each year. Follow the Arizona Department of Health Services blog to stay current on the Department’s rulings about condition requests.
Age Limits: Patients of all ages are potentially eligible for medical marijuana. However, patients who are under the age of 18 must receive consent from their legal guardian or custodial parent to participate in Arizona’s medical marijuana program.
How to Apply: Once you’ve received a debilitating condition diagnosis, you must obtain a written certification from an Arizona registered medical doctor, osteopath, homeopath, or naturopath with whom you have a bonafide physician-patient relationship.
The written certification form must be completed on the official Arizona Department of Health Services document and submitted within 90 days of submitting the medical marijuana card application.
Where to Apply: Arizona residents can only apply for a patient card online. The Arizona Department of Health does not accept in-person applications.
Application Fees: The cost of applying for a medical marijuana card is $150.
If you are currently receiving SNAP benefits, the application fee is reduced to $75. You must include a copy of an eligibility notice or electronic benefits transfer card to prove participation in the SNAP program.
Home Growing: If a qualifying patient lives more than 25 miles away from a dispensary, they or their designated caregiver may be approved by the Department to cultivate medical marijuana in their homes. Cultivation must be conducted in an enclosed, locked facility such as a greenhouse, closet, or shed as long as these facilities are equipped with locks and obstruct any viewing of the cannabis.
Doctors Can Recommend Medical Cannabis by Following These Guidelines
Allopathic, osteopathic, homeopathic, and naturopathic physicians who hold valid Arizona licenses may submit written certification forms for patients with whom they have an established physician-patient relationship.
If the physician can confirm or make one of the aforementioned debilitating medical condition diagnoses for their patient, the physician can complete this written certification form on the patient’s behalf.
In addition to these basic requirements, Arizona’s law requires physicians to complete these prerequisites before recommending cannabis to their patients:
- Conduct an in-person exam documenting the patient’s debilitating condition-related symptoms
- Review the patient’s medical records dating back to 12 months, including records from other physicians
- Review the patient’s response to conventional therapies
- Review the patient’s profile on the Arizona Board of Pharmacy Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program database
- Explain the risks and benefits of medical cannabis to the patient or their legal guardian or custodial parent
- If applicable, disclose any personal or professional relationship the physician has with the recommended dispensary
- Attest that cannabis will have a medically beneficial effect on the patient in the treatment of their debilitating condition
The Arizona Department of Health Services will occasionally conduct audits on physicians. If the Department determines that the physician is engaged in misconduct, it will report its findings to the physician’s licensing board.
Physicians are authorized to revoke a patient’s written certification in the following circumstances:
- The patient’s debilitating condition diagnosis is no longer applicable
- The patient is not medically benefiting from cannabis in the physician’s professional opinion
- The patient is not following the physician’s guidelines for the use of medical marijuana
While physicians are not prohibited from professional involvement with dispensaries, they may not provide written certifications for cannabis if they are operating as a dispensary’s medical director.
Rules for Medical Marijuana Businesses
Authorized Dispensary Type: Dispensaries registered with the Arizona Department of Health Services must be nonprofit medical dispensaries. This means that they can only receive payment for business-related expenses and may only provide the product to registered qualifying patients.
Licensed dispensaries are the only entities that may cultivate cannabis. There is no legal avenue for a business entity to obtain a cultivation-only type license.
If dispensary owners do not wish to cultivate, they may obtain cannabis from other licensed dispensaries.
Dispensary License Limits: There may only be one dispensary for every 10 pharmacies in the state.
Authorized Products: Dispensaries are required to be open for at least 30 hours a week and provide medical marijuana and educational materials to qualifying patients.
Registered dispensaries may grow, prepare, transport, and/or sell medical marijuana, marijuana-related paraphernalia, cannabis-infused edibles, and other cannabis-infused products.
Dispensaries may also deliver cannabis products to qualifying patients.
Eligible Dispensary Owners and Employees: Adults aged 21 and older with criminal records excluding felony offenses may be eligible to own or operate as a principal board member or officer of a dispensary.
Only principal officers or board members may apply for dispensary agent registration cards for themselves and for their employees. The application must be completed online.
Application fee: The dispensary registration fee is $5000. This fee is mostly non-refundable. There is only 1 exception: if the applicant completes a registration but does not receive a certificate, the applicant will receive a refund of only $1000.
Medical Oversight: Dispensaries must hire an Arizona-licensed physician to operate as a medical director. Medical directors assist in the training and education of dispensary agents and customers. Physicians who are medical directors are prohibited from issuing written certifications to patients.