Arizona lawmakers call for medical marijuana testing; end to 'Wi - Tucson News Now

Arizona lawmakers call for medical marijuana testing; end to 'Wild West' mentality

PHOENIX (AP) -

A Republican lawmaker has persuaded nearly the entire Legislature to sign on in support of his proposal to require medical marijuana to be tested for mold and agricultural chemicals.

The proposal from Sen. Sonny Borrelli would appropriate $2 million from the state's huge medical marijuana fund to do the testing. It also would lower the $150 annual fee that patients need to pay to get a medical marijuana card to $50 and $25 for a renewal.

Borrelli has 78 co-sponsors for his measure, including the Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. There are 90 members of the Legislature.

The Lake Havasu City lawmaker said Monday that he wants to ensure patients know what they are consuming.

"Customers need to know what's going on with this stuff they are buying that they are convinced that it's going to help them," Borrelli said.

"Right now, there's no regulation whatsoever. It's the Wild West. There are some good dispensaries out there that are doing this right, and we want to make sure the others do the same," he said.

During the announcement, lawmakers referenced an investigation by Arizona's Family last month that found mold on medical marijuana sold in Phoenix.

Co-sponsor Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix) said after the report, the bill gained traction with some cannabis business owners who had previously opposed testing due to concerns about additional cost.

"The opposition kind of went away at that point," he said.

[RELATED: Lab tests find mold on medical marijuana sold in Phoenix; 'It should be pulled off the shelf']

The proposal was embraced by the Arizona Marijuana Industry Trade Association.

"The industry isn't necessarily going to be jumping up and down for slightly more regulations, but the industry has to look at it as a whole," said MITA founder Demitri Downing. "The end result is best for the citizens, the patients, and the voters."

[RELATED: Business owners weigh in on new bill designed to regulate medical marijuana safety]

Borrelli's proposal would require the state Department of Agriculture to test for pesticides and other chemicals, paid for with the $2 million from the fund. The Health Services Department would set up testing to ensure marijuana is free of mold, and potentially write rules on potency testing, using money currently sitting in the fund.

"From an industry perspective I am certainly not opposed to it," said Laura Bianchi, who heads the cannabis department at Scottsdale-based Rose Law Group and represents a large number of companies growing, distributing and selling medical marijuana. "In fact I think testing requirements are an important component of any medical product."

The program would be funded by the state's medical marijuana fund, which has $35 million available and is growing by the year because fees far exceed the costs of running the program.

Bianchi said the lack of a testing requirement is a "huge gap" in the state' voter-approved medical marijuana program. She noted that many retailers are doing testing either in-house or through third-party labs.

She criticized the current $150 fee patients must pay annually to get or renew a medical marijuana card once they have a doctor's recommendation, calling it "ridiculous."

"No. 1, it's something that a physician has said will help them medically, but it's not covered by insurance so the cost can be great," Bianchi said. "And then to have them pay that every year, I just think that's an astronomical fee."

A group of patients sued the state over the fee in 2016, arguing it was set well above what voters intended when they passed the 2010 initiative legalizing sales. A judge tossed the lawsuit, saying they didn't have the right to sue over an administrative decision.

Borrelli said the lower fee is a no-brainer.

"It's kind of hard for even the department to justify sitting on (nearly) $40 million," he said. "So $50 is reasonable, a renewal fee of $25 is very reasonable."

Because the proposal amends a voter-approved law, it will require a three-fourths majority of the Legislature.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

© 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mother charged with child abuse after 13-month-old found dead in Roberstdale

    Mother charged with child abuse after 13-month-old found dead in Roberstdale

    Friday, May 25 2018 6:12 PM EDT2018-05-25 22:12:09 GMT
    27-year-old Jordan Rice is charged with aggravated child abuse after her 13-month-old child was found dead. (Photo courtesy BCSO)27-year-old Jordan Rice is charged with aggravated child abuse after her 13-month-old child was found dead. (Photo courtesy BCSO)

    Baldwin County Sheriff Office investigators are currently working a child death investigation of a 1-year-old in which the mother of the child has been arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse. 

    Baldwin County Sheriff Office investigators are currently working a child death investigation of a 1-year-old in which the mother of the child has been arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse. 

  • Homeowners terrified as non-profits say homeless now looking for help in other neighborhoods

    Homeowners terrified as non-profits say homeless now looking for help in other neighborhoods

    Friday, May 25 2018 2:17 AM EDT2018-05-25 06:17:00 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:29 AM EDT2018-05-26 13:29:03 GMT
    For years, the homeless in Phoenix have lived around West Jefferson, an area littered with trash, drugs, and sleeping bags. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)For years, the homeless in Phoenix have lived around West Jefferson, an area littered with trash, drugs, and sleeping bags. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
    For years, the homeless in Phoenix have lived around West Jefferson, an area littered with trash, drugs, and sleeping bags. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)For years, the homeless in Phoenix have lived around West Jefferson, an area littered with trash, drugs, and sleeping bags. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    “We need to find a way to provide better shelter and care,” said Erik Erspamer. 

    “We need to find a way to provide better shelter and care,” said Erik Erspamer. 

  • Family grieves loss of man killed trying to help others in a wreck

    Family grieves loss of man killed trying to help others in a wreck

    Friday, May 25 2018 7:51 PM EDT2018-05-25 23:51:18 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:30 AM EDT2018-05-26 13:30:20 GMT
    (Source: Family photo)(Source: Family photo)
    (Source: Family photo)(Source: Family photo)

    "My husband put everybody before him. Everybody." Relatives of a good Samaritan are speaking out after their beloved family member was killed trying to help others after a car crash. 

    "My husband put everybody before him. Everybody." Relatives of a good Samaritan are speaking out after their beloved family member was killed trying to help others after a car crash. 

  • Featured VideoMore>>

  • Student in critical condition after Indianapolis middle school shooting identified

    Student in critical condition after Indianapolis middle school shooting identified

    Saturday, May 26 2018 4:11 PM EDT2018-05-26 20:11:21 GMT
    This undated photo provided by the Whistler family shows Ella Whistler, who was shot in a classroom May 25, 2018 at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Ind., near Indianapolis. (Whistler family)This undated photo provided by the Whistler family shows Ella Whistler, who was shot in a classroom May 25, 2018 at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Ind., near Indianapolis. (Whistler family)

    An Indiana middle school student armed with two handguns opened fire inside his science classroom, authorities said, wounding a classmate and a teacher whose swift intervention was credited with saving lives.

    An Indiana middle school student armed with two handguns opened fire inside his science classroom, authorities said, wounding a classmate and a teacher whose swift intervention was credited with saving lives.

  • Avondale suspect's mother upset over use of force during son's arrest

    Avondale suspect's mother upset over use of force during son's arrest

    Saturday, May 26 2018 1:46 AM EDT2018-05-26 05:46:19 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:40 AM EDT2018-05-26 13:40:19 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    After video surfaced showing a dramatic police take-down in Avondale, that man's mother says she's furious. She says her son didn't deserve that kind of force.

    After video surfaced showing a dramatic police take-down in Avondale, that man's mother says she's furious. She says her son didn't deserve that kind of force.

  • Dirty Dining May 25: Mesa restaurant hit with a whopping 12 health code violations

    Dirty Dining May 25: Mesa restaurant hit with a whopping 12 health code violations

    Friday, May 25 2018 10:13 PM EDT2018-05-26 02:13:51 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:30 AM EDT2018-05-26 13:30:45 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    Every week, CBS 5 News is sent a list of restaurants that have been recently inspected by Maricopa County's Environmental Services Department. CBS 5 News selects restaurants with some of the highest number of "risk factors." According to health inspectors, risk factors are considered major health code violations. For more details on the restaurant inspection scoring system visit Maricopa County's website at www.maricopa.gov. Here are the Valley restaurants with the mo...

    Every week, CBS 5 News is sent a list of restaurants that have been recently inspected by Maricopa County's Environmental Services Department. CBS 5 News selects restaurants with some of the highest number of "risk factors." According to health inspectors, risk factors are considered major health code violations. For more details on the restaurant inspection scoring system visit Maricopa County's website at www.maricopa.gov. Here are the Valley restaurants with the mo...

Powered by Frankly