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Rural Medical Marijuana Users May Regain Right to Grow

Some medical marijuana users outside the state’s metro areas may soon regain the right to grow their own. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

The 2010 voter-approved Medical Marijuana Act says those with a doctor’s recommendation can obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of the drug every two weeks. But, they have to get it from a state-regulated dispensary if they live within 25 miles. That was everyone when the law was first approved as there were no dispensaries at the time. But now, 98 percent of the estimated 56,000 medical marijuana users are within range.

On Tuesday administrative law judge Tammy Eigenheer rejected arguments by a Gold Canyon resident that he should be exempt because while a dispensary was 8 miles as the crow flies, it was 26 miles by road. Eigenheer said that’s just the way the rules are written. But, state Health Director Will Humble said this isn’t the first time the issue has been raised.

“And I actually agree with them. And so we’re in the process right now of revising our regulations. And in those new revised regulations were going to change that definition of 25 miles to by road,” Humble said.

But Humble said that 25-mile rule, however measured, is justified. He said it honors the intent of voters who wanted a system which requires marijuana to be handled through regulated dispensaries, complete with reporting requirements, rather than a free-for-all where users can grow what they want and distribute it to others.

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