Arizona's first report on medical marijuana released - Tucson News Now

Arizona's first report on medical marijuana released

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Arizona's medical marijuana program has been contentious since its approval two years ago.

Now, we have a clearer picture of which patients are getting a doctor's recommendation for the drug and which doctors are giving it their approval.

Arizona's medical marijuana program went into effect in April of last year, and the first annual report on the program has just been released.

A few things stand out.

The report has a lot of information, from the number of Arizonans with medical marijuana cards to the number of physicians recommending the drug--writing certifications-- for their patients.

The Arizona Department of Health Services manages the program, and ADHS Director Will Humble doesn't like what he sees when it comes to physician numbers.

"That's the area of the report that I think, honestly to me, was the most disappointing," Humble says. "The vast majority of the certifications were coming from folks--predominantly naturopaths-- that have focused pretty much their core business on writing certifications."

Humble says there are a couple of things he's recommending.

"A" make sure that those doctors and naturopaths that are writing large number of certifications clearly understand what we expect."

And "B," Humble wants to get more broad-based education out there for primary care physicians who are in a position to know their patients best.

"Not necessarily to write more certifications, but to get them to the point where they're able to have an intelligent conversation with their patients about medical marijuana," Humble says.

There are no medical marijuana dispensaries open in Arizona yet, but the Tucson area has two of them that are far along in the approval pipeline.

Humble is prohibited from telling us which dispensary it is, but one of them is set to be inspected the week of November 19.

"Now that doesn't mean that they'll have everything ready to operate their business, but it will be up to them as to when they open their doors if we give them their operating license on the week of the 19th," Humble explains.

If you would like to read the entire 48 page report (PDF) including more recommendations regarding patients, click here.

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