History Of Medical Cannabis In Arizona

50.13 percent of Arizona voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Question (Prop 203) in 2010. The corresponding Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) for the first time allowed patients with an Arizona registry ID card to use cannabis for medical purposes. Under the law patients may appoint a designated caregiver for assistance, patients and their caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis and may cultivate up to 12 plants if they live at least 25 miles away from a registered dispensary. The law recognizes out-of-state medical cannabis IDs for the purposes of criminal protections but does not permit visiting patients to obtain cannabis from Arizona dispensaries. Due to a series of lawsuits, the Arizona Department of Health Services did not post rules for the Medical Marijuana Dispensary portion of the AMMA until 2012. The first medical cannabis dispensary opened in Arizona in December of 2012 with the requirement that at least one dispensary be located in each county, and if more are authorized they do not exceed a ratio greater than 1:10 to licensed and operating pharmacies in the state. Arizona opened its first drive-thru dispensary in 2017, and today over 100 medical cannabis dispensaries operate legally in the Grand Canyon State.

Since the passage of the AMMA, the legislature has passed several laws restricting the rights of patients which ASA recommends reversing to protect patients. HB 2541, which was passed in 2011, allows an employer to fire a patient for workplace impairment solely on the word of a "reliable" colleague or a positive drug test. HB 2585 added cannabis patient data to the prescription drug monitoring program that same year. In 2012 HB 2349 prohibited medical cannabis at schools, vocational schools, and college campuses, but the Arizona Supreme Court overturned this law as unconstitutional in State v. Maestas. In 2015 HB 2346 specified that the AMMA does not require workers' compensation benefits to include reimbursement for medical cannabis. In 2017 the legislature passed HB 2061, which requires dispensaries and doctors to warn of the potential risk of using cannabis while breastfeeding or pregnant. In 2019 an AZ court ruled that a recommendation letter from a California doctor is just as valid as an AZ-issued medical cannabis ID card, which has significant implications for patient reciprocity. In May 2019, the AZ Supreme Court ruled that medical cannabis extracts are legal, and a federal judge in Arizona ruled that Walmart improperly terminated an employee for state-legal medical cannabis use.