The Main Stream

Nov 15, 2012 8:12 PM by Erika Flores

Card holders waiting for dispensaries to open

TUCSON - Opening day for marijuana dispensaries all over Arizona keeps getting pushed back.

In 2010, voters approved a measure allowing the sale and use of medical marijuana in Tucson.

To use it, a patient must have a medical marijuana identification card, but still no open dispensaries and card holders have had to pay two hundred fifty dollars a year to keep their card active.

There are a few dispensaries nearing the final step-inspection-but it has taken two years to get here.

Cardholder, Dave, said it isn't fair to keep card holders waiting.

Dave said he got his medical marijuana card in June 2011.

"I have chronic migraines and I have injuries from football. I've broken most of my bones from my upper extremities," said Dave.

Getting a card doesn't come cheap.

"$250 ...that's 150 to the state and a 100 to a certification center," he said.

And Dave had to renew again this year.

"It's the same amount you have to have your records again everything needs to be current it's the same process," said Dave.

Dave said even though card users are allowed to grow their own marijuana if there isn't a dispensary within 25 miles, he said it's not fair.

There are over 28 thousand medical marijuana card holders in Arizona.

"Patients are paying 350 dollars tops 250 if they go to another place and then they can't use it?" said Dave.

Vicky Puchi-Saavedra said she is just now on track to get her dispensary inspected so that she can open it.

She expects to get that done in about three to four months.

"I've been working on this since 2010," said Saavedra. "It's been a long haul, but I am grateful to get the opportunity."

Will Humble, with the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the first dispensary in Tucson could be open by Thanksgiving if they pass a nine-page-inspection.

"We were on track for this to be happening about a year ago, but the legal battles got in the middle of this," said Humble.

The legal battles were between Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act and the Federal Control Substance Act.

Some of the criteria the inspection looks out for deal with inventory control, security, patient care and medical direction.

Humble said he thinks by New Year's Day, there will be about a dozen dispensaries open after passing inspection.

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