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10/4/2013 7:51:00 AM
Court ruling looms on right to grow your own medical marijuana
The 2010 law allows those with a doctor’s recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. It also envisioned dispensaries around the state. That law also allows anyone not within 25 miles of a dispensary to grow up to 12 plants at any one time.
The 2010 law allows those with a doctor’s recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. It also envisioned dispensaries around the state. That law also allows anyone not within 25 miles of a dispensary to grow up to 12 plants at any one time.

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services


PHOENIX -- Medical marijuana patients could learn later this month if they have a constitutional right to grow their own weed.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper said Wednesday she will consider on Oct. 18 a bid by the Department of Health Services to have the lawsuit thrown out. Assistant Attorney General Gregory Falls hopes to convince her that nothing in the Arizona Constitution about the rights of patients to choose their own health care extends to making their own drugs.

If Cooper doesn't buy that argument, she is ready for the next step: She scheduled an Oct. 21 hearing to allow Michael Walz, the attorney for two medical marijuana patients, to tell her why she should order state Health Director Will Humble to let them have their plants.

If Walz ultimately succeeds, the implications go far beyond these two men. It would pave the way for similar rights for the approximately 40,000 individuals who already have been granted permits to possess the drug but now are required to purchase their supply from one of the state's nearly 100 state-regulated dispensaries.

At issue is what Walz said is a conflict between the Medical Marijuana Act that voters enacted in 2010 and a separate constitutional amendment, also approved by voters, two years later.

The 2010 law allows those with a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. It also envisioned dispensaries around the state.

That law also allows anyone not within 25 miles of a dispensary to grow up to 12 plants at any one time. And since no dispensaries were operating, every cardholder initially got that right.

But Humble said that now virtually all Arizonans are within that 25-mile radius. So he is denying grow rights to individuals as they renew their annual permits.

Walz, however, points to a 2012 constitutional amendment which overrules any law that requires anyone to "participate in any health care system.' And that, he argued, means individuals can't be forced to give up the cheaper option of growing their own plants.

"People are legally entitled, if their doctor gives them certification, to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes,' Walz said Wednesday.

"Many people cannot afford the prices that are charged by dispensaries,' he continued. "Therefore, they need to be able to grow their marijuana for themselves.'

And Walz said that, for some patients, the strain of marijuana is crucial.

"A particular strain may be effective to treat their specific condition and they need that strain,' Walz argued. "They can't depend on a dispensary to make the effort of providing a specific strain for any particular person.'

Humble isn't buying the argument -- and not only because he rejects the idea that the Arizona Constitution guarantees individuals the right to make their own regulated medicine. He pointed out that voters themselves approved the provision in the 2010 law which says the right to grow disappears once there is an available dispensary.

Walz dismissed that as irrelevant.

"I don't know that the voters were aware of that specific provision,' he said.

"They clearly were aware that some patients would be able to grow,' Walz said. "As far as when and how many of those rights would be extinguished, I don't think the voters had a clue.'


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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Article comment by: Armand Brun

Where is the follow up story for this? It's the 21st today and I still haven't seen if the judge will allow Mr. Walz to proceed today?

Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Article comment by: verde voter

Just like alternative energy, there is a market for hemp and medical marijuana. So many uses. I don't know why along with the solar, wind, alternative energy and Vineyards in the Verde Valley, why we cannot develop and grow hemp products such as oil, paper, fiber, fabric, rope, clothings etc., in the verde valley. Think of the jobs.Just Think? Produced in the Verde Valley and American Made. What are we waiting for? We should be leading the State and country in this production.

Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Article comment by: Kurt Easton

Am disabled with a very painfull back.I would have to drive 22 miles of rough dirt road to get to a paved hwy, then 20 more miles to get to a dispensary.The jarring pain in driving,cost of dispensary product and cost of gas all takes it's toll.

Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Article comment by: Mr Maverick

Several nations have legalized Medical Marijuana. Perhaps our officials should do some reading. Israel gives medical marijuana to their citizens. One Israeli scientific report shows cannabis kills cancer cells plus the other known benefits many spelled out in the USA Patent for Medical Marijuana. United States Patent 6,630,507 Hampson , et al.
October 7, 2003 Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Constitutionally we should have the right to grown our own rather than pay $17.50/GRAM with tax. How can it be legal to grow if you live 26 miles from a dispensary but not if you live closer? That is discrimination, period.


Posted: Friday, October 4, 2013
Article comment by: Allen Corbett

Talk about Conspiracy's, turns out we have an Endocannabiniod System! Look it up!!! Wonder why no matter how much you consume, that it will not kill you??? Because this system is responsible for HOMEOSTASIS!!! Look that one up!! AHHHH STOP Letting our Government help big pharma get rich while we get sick and die from there NON-Cures!!!!



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