A bill that would expand the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis and lower the cost of the treatment was approved by lawmakers in Arizona.
The bill, SB 1466, was approved on Monday by a legislative committee. If it were to become law, the measure would result in a host of changes to the state’s medical cannabis law––perhaps most notably, the addition of autism and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions.
It was approved by a 7-2 vote by members of the Health and Human Services Committee Hearing.
The outlet AZMarijuana has a rundown of the key points of the bill, which includes: “Reduction of medical marijuana card costs to $50, with renewals every 2 years; 100% waiver of medical marijuana card costs to veterans; Adding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder into statute; Adds Autism Spectrum Disorder as a debilitating medical condition; Alignment of the advertising, packaging, and branding to match the rules in Smart and Safe; Requires protections for children – child resistant packaging, prohibits advertising attractive to children, adds advertising restrictions; Alignment of the definition of marijuana and marijuana products; Codifying the use of telehealth; Updating the details of the requirements in the QR Code and track/traceability; Provide a unified cover sheet for COAs to simplify consumer/patient experience; Removes a government-led lab testing council and replaces with a full public forum.”
The group Arizona Dispensaries Association has strongly backed the legislation.
“ADA supports SB1466, which gives veterans the ability to acquire a medical marijuana card at no cost,” said Ann Torrez, executive director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, as quoted by AZMarijuana. “Often veterans suffer from PTSD, insomnia, heightened anxiety and chronic pain. A free medical marijuana card gives veteran patients access to medical cannabis treatment for any of these common conditions.”
“The ADA’s primary mission is to promote and advocate for a safe, consumer-focused cannabis industry in Arizona,” Torrez continued. “We aim to continuously educate consumers on the importance of visiting only licensed dispensaries and consuming only THC and CBD products that have been lab tested and approved.”
The bill is being considered at a time when Arizona’s medical cannabis industry is enduring sluggish sales.
In October, medical marijuana sales in the state amounted to a little more than $31 million, which was the eighth consecutive month of decline.
Meanwhile, the state’s adult-use cannabis market, which launched in January 2021, continues to thrive.
In that same month, recreational cannabis sales in Arizona totaled $73.8 million, which was a new high.
As AZ Mirror reported earlier this year, the “crumbling of the medical program follows a pattern other states have seen with medical markets outpaced by recreational sales in the wake of legalization.”
The outlet reported in January: “The state collects 16% excise tax on recreational sales in addition to the standard sales tax; medical patients pay roughly 6% in state sales tax, levied as a Transaction Privilege Tax on cannabis outlets. Local jurisdictions charge an additional 2% or so for all marijuana sales. One-third of recreational taxes collected are dedicated to community college and provisional community college districts; 31% to public safety — police, fire departments, fire districts, first responders — 25% to the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund, and 10% to the justice reinvestment fund, dedicated to providing public health services, counseling, job training and other social services for communities that have been adversely affected and disproportionately impacted by marijuana arrests and criminalization. The medical market has continued to bleed both sales and participants, following a trend in some states that have legalized adult-use cannabis years after establishing medical cannabis markets.”