Arizona's top health official refused Wednesday to accept an application from prospective operators of a medical marijuana dispensary. Director Will Humble rejected the first application for a dispensary Wednesday and said no applications will be accepted until the state's suit against the U.S. Department of Justice is settled.
In a politically motivated move, the State of Arizona filed suit last week to find out how Arizona's voter approved medical marijuana law, might be affected by federal law which bans the growing, sale, possession and use of marijuana.
As reporters and camera operators watched in a conference room in the department's headquarters, Humble presented the group of prospective applicants with a form letter acknowledging their attempt and explaining his refusal.
Humble said he personally made the decision to not accept dispensary applications. He cited legal advice from the Attorney General's Office and consultations with Gov. Jan Brewer's office, but declined to specify any direction he received from Brewer.
The state continues to process applications for patient and caregiver cards for medical marijuana and Humble said state law allows patients, or their designated caregivers, to grow limited amounts of marijuana.
"They can grow up to 12 plants for their own medical use. It needs to be indoors, enclosed and locked, inaccessible to the rest of the family. Or it could be outdoors, as long as it's behind a concrete wall with a steel gate to prevent access from the neighbors etc.
Humble could not produce an answer when asked where patients can get marijuana plants or seeds.
"I don't really know. There are hydroponic stores around town that give advice to people on how to grow for their own medical use."
"The voters of Arizona have spoken. The patients are in need. The least we could do is submit our application," said Dr. Richard Strand, a diagnostic radiologist who is among four men, including two other physicians, who sought to file the application Wednesday.
The state continues to accept and process applications by patients and caregivers. Most of the roughly 3,700 patient applications processed as of May 24 authorize those patients to grow up to 12 plants of marijuana for their own use, but that still leaves patients without access to dispensaries to obtain marijuana.
And I'll leave you with this quote from the person who allegedly made this critical decision, Will Humble.
"You can get cuttings, too, I found out... Apparently, it's like cactus where you can snip off a branch and put it in the dirt and it apparently grows."