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Marijuana Program

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A photo of some California issued medical marijuana bottles and a marijuana pipe. Image by Adam Guzzon. Refer image by Laurie Avocado and used under terms of a Creative Commons license.
Competition For Dispensary Certificates Is Strongest In Northern Arizona While Dense, Urban Areas Mostly Remain Up For Grabs

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

May 17, 2012 — The Arizona Department of Health Services opened their two-week window for accepting medical marijuana dispensary applications Monday and surprisingly, the gold rush predicted at the onset of the program has been reduced to a coupon sale.

An even bigger surprise might be that only 6 of the 32 dispensary certificate applications received by Wednesday are for CHAAs in the urban areas of Phoenix and Tucson. CHAAs, or Community Health Analysis Areas, are used by the DHS to allocate dispensary certificates. There are 126 available dispensaries in 126 CHAAs, most of which are in the larger metropolitan areas. Applications will be accepted until May 25.

Three of the four Phoenix-metro CHAAs applied for surround the Tempe CHAA which is considered by some to be the most lucrative since it contains Arizona State University: Camelback East, Mesa West and South Mountain. The other Phoenix-metro CHAA that has been applied for is Paradise Valley Village, directly north of the Camelback East CHAA. According to the latest information available from the Department of Health Services, the Paradise Valley Village CHAA, which straddles state route 51 from about Shea Boulevard to Loop 101 has 936 residents who have received patient licenses, the most of any CHAA in the state.

Some of the most hotly contested areas so far are located in northern Arizona. Five applications have been received for the Flagstaff West CHAA and six for the Flagstaff East CHAA. There are two applications for the Williams, Prescott and Bagdad CHAAs, and one application filed for the Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City, Flagstaff Rural, Sedona, St. Johns, and Yavapai County Northeast CHAAs.

Southern Arizona showed healthy activity as the Bisbee and Ajo CHAAs each received one application. In Tucson, however, only two applications have been received. The two areas, known as the Tuscon East Central, and Tucson East CHAAs, are adjacent to the University of Arizona.

Arizona Department of Health Services

Arizona Medical Marijuana Act

More than 25,000 patients are approved to buy and use medical marijuana, according to the Department of Health Services. Ten application have been denied and 113 are either awaiting further information or are under review. Chronic pain is overwhelmingly the most cited reason for requesting the license, with more than 22,000 certified patients.

The dispensaries are expected to be awarded sometime this summer with official opening expected before end of the year.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has declined to release the names of the applicants for dispensaries citing privacy concerns.

A public hearing will be held May 25 over whether to add post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, migraines and depression to the list of accepted conditions eligible for a patient license. The public hearing will begin at 1 p.m., May 25, in the State Lab,  250 N. 17th Ave., Phoenix.

John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.
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