The state of Arizona ‘quietly’ passed a bill late Friday night with the aim of making existing medical marijuana program cheaper and cleaner for its nearly 200,000 patients.
Under the new rules set by SB-1494, medical marijuana cards will be valid for 2 years. This will allow patients to save $150 application fee that they are required to pay each year. Furthermore, because of this amendment, patients will save on annual doctor visit fees.
Applauding the move, Demitri Downing, Executive director of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association, said, ” $150 doesn’t grow on trees; it’s a huge sum for the patients.”
The bill also states that the mandatory potency and purity testing will begin November 1, 2020 onwards.
Although Arizona had legalized medical marijuana back in 2010, there wasn’t any lab-testing mandate in place. However, under the new bill signed by Governor Doug Ducey, independent third-party labs will test for the quality of the products before they arrive in dispensaries. These laboratories need national or international accreditation besides a certification from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The labs will test for potency and common contaminants such as fungus, mildew, mold, pesticides, fungicides, growth regulators, and heavy metals like Lead. These reports will be sent to dispensaries, which in turn will be required to provide the data “immediately on requests” of caregivers and patients, reports Leafly.
“Being the only legal state with no mandatory testing wasn’t perhaps the best status to have,” said Downing while also mentioning ‘patient safety’ and ‘unnecessary fees’ for their decision to include mandatory lab testing.
In order to avoid conflicts between dispensaries and labs a “direct or indirect familial or financial relationship” has been prohibited by the government. For the purpose, the state’s department of health services would also form a 12-person Medical Marijuana Testing Advisory Council, comprising commercial cultivators, extract manufacturers, patients, police and members from a dispensary association.
SB-1494 marks the first significant change in Arizona’s medical marijuana program that came into force 9 years ago. Notably, Arizona’s medical marijuana law can’t be easily modified as it was passed via a statewide voter initiative.