Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Medical marijuana: Is Arizona a ‘nanny state’ or a ‘free market’ state?

Arizona bureaucrats are wringing their hands over the implementation of Prop 203– the medical marijuana law that voters approved in November 2010.

The roadblocks that bureaucrats like Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, Arizona Bar official Patricia Sallen, and now Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble have erected bring me question one of this state’s core Republican values– free-market capitalism.

Is Arizona a nanny state that wants to protect its citizens from legal marijuana distribution? Or is Arizona a business-friendly, capitalist state that will allow the free market decide which marijuana dispensaries survive? So far, Arizona’s approach to the medical marijuana business is out-of-step with its generally laissez-faire, no-holds-barred business attitude.

The latest example of the state’s schizophrenic behavior appeared in an Associated Press story in today’s Arizona Daily Star. The story features hand-wringing Humble brainstorming about ways to hamper the medical marijuana industry with fees and over-regulation before it even gets off the ground. [Emphasis added.]

“Most other states, you hang out a shingle and you’re a dispensary,” said Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, which will regulate the medical marijuana industry. “I want to avoid those kinds of abuses.”

Humble sees limiting the number of dispensaries and putting stringent requirements in place as a way to avoid such issues.

Dispensary hopefuls will have to pay up to $5,000 to apply for a license. In their application, they’ll need to include addresses for their pot shops and off-site cultivation facilities; detailed security plans to prevent break-ins; procedures for accurate record-keeping; information about employees for background checks; a sworn statement that they’re meeting zoning requirements; and a statement pledging they won’t sell pot to unregistered patients.

The department hopes to post a draft of proposed requirements on Dec. 17 and finalize rules by late March.

If a business owner has the proper business licenses and has complied with local zoning, why shouldn’t they be able to “hang out a shingle” and become a medical marijuana dispensary? How is that an “abuse”? Isn’t that called capitalism? Seriously, folks, how is this different from setting up a pharmacy or a shop that sells nutritional supplements?

So, Governor Jan Brewer wants to give huge tax cuts to businesses that will re-locate to Arizona, but would-be marijuana dispensary businesses get hefty fees + mountains of procedures + a patchwork of city and county zoning regulations + the requirement to be non-profit + a limit on growth + no legal help? That doesn’t seem business friendly to me.

UPDATE: Check out this link for the update on this story.

26 comments on “Medical marijuana: Is Arizona a ‘nanny state’ or a ‘free market’ state?

  1. leftfield
    December 6, 2010

    I see the value of pointing out the contradictions in reactionary propaganda.  I also think that it should be pointed out that catch-phrases like “free market” and “nanny state” are just smoke screens to put a populist spin on what is simply a self-serving program to enrich the few at the expense of the many.


    • AFV
      December 6, 2010

      Nanny state would apply if state politicians are actively seeking roadblocks to capitalism wouldn’t it? It would be nice to know what restrictions apply to gun stores.


      • Pamela
        December 6, 2010

        @AFV– gun shops? That is an excellent question. Medical mj dispensaries have several layers of restrictions regarding location. Dispensaries can’t be too close to schools, day care centers or treatment facilities and, in Pima County, grow operations cannot be in a warehouse district or a neighborhood.


    • Learned Hand
      December 6, 2010

      Do us all a favor… Go ahead and educate yourself, as a favor to humanity.
      Here is the USPTO page for the patent on Medical Marijuana:
      Take a good look at who owns it.  I’ll give you a hint… (the same people who are who are standing between patients and their medicine)
      I’m not sure why most people are unaware of the United States government’s cannabis hypocrisy!  The author’s right, man.  NANNY STATE.


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  4. Jim Hannley
    December 6, 2010

    You raise very good points, Pamela. Your interpretation of the Star’s article today highlights the extreme contradictions found in the policies of the Republican rulers of the state.


  5. Mickey
    December 6, 2010

    If they limit the amount of dispensaries, would not that allow more growing of your own?      I suggest that  anyone who cares about MM start your own grow.    It doesn’t take a brain surgeon.  But, it requires a lot of attention.   The plant is one of the most beautiful ones on this planet.  Down with Brain-dead Brewer and her minions.


    • Buzzby
      December 6, 2010

      I suggest that anyone who cares about legal medical marijuana not start their own grow.  For those who missed it, Proposition 203 allows home-growing only if the patient lives more than 25 miles from a dispensary.  If you are not properly licensed and growing according to the rules, you’d  be guilty of illegal cultivation.  If you grow less than 2 pounds, that could get you 9 months to 2 years in jail and a hefty fine.


      • ej
        December 8, 2010

        look at the zoning map most of phx will  be able to grow their own ur just full of bs


        • Pamela Powers
          December 8, 2010

          You have to be 25 miles from a dispensary to grow your own. Since licenses have not been issued and no one knows where the dispensaries will be located, I don’t see how you could know that.


  6. malcolmkyle
    December 6, 2010

    If you support prohibition then you are NOT a conservative.
    Conservative principles, quite clearly, ARE:

    1) Limited, locally controlled government.
    2) Individual liberty coupled with personal responsibility.
    3) Free enterprise.
    4) A strong national defense.
    5) Fiscal responsibility.

    Prohibition is actually an authoritarian War on the Constitution and all civic institutions of our great nation.

    It’s all about the market and cost/benefit analysis. Whether any particular drug is good, bad, or otherwise is irrelevant! As long as there is demand for any mind altering substance, there will be supply; the end! The only affect prohibiting it has is to drive the price up, increase the costs and profits, and where there is illegal profit to be made criminals and terrorists thrive.

    The cost of criminalizing citizens who are using substances no more harmful than similar things that are perfectly legal like alcohol and tobacco, is not only hypocritical and futile, but also simply not worth the incredible damage it does.

    Afghani farmers produce approx. 93% of the world’s opium which is then, mostly, refined into street heroin then smuggled throughout Eastern and Western Europe.

    Both the Taliban and the terrorists of al Qaeda derive their main income from the prohibition-inflated value of this very easily grown crop, which means that Prohibition is the “Goose that laid the golden egg” and the lifeblood of terrorists as well as drug cartels. Only those opposed, or willing to ignore this fact, want things the way they are.

    See: How opium profits the Taliban: http://tinyurl.com/37mr86k


    Click to access NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf

    Prohibition provides America’s sworn enemies with financial “aid” and tactical “comforts”. The Constitution of the United States of America defines treason as:
    “Article III / Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

    Support for prohibition is therefor an act of treason against the Constitution, and a dire threat to the nation’s civic institutions.

    The Founding Fathers were not social conservatives who believed that citizens should be subordinate to any particular narrow religious moral order. That is what the whole concept of unalienable individual rights means, and sumptuary laws, especially in the form of prohibition, were something they continually warned about.

    It is way past time for us all to wise up and help curtail the dangerous expansions of federal police powers, the encroachments on individual liberties, and the increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the unworkable and dangerous policy of drug prohibition.

    To support prohibition you have to be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

    * The US national debt has increased at an average rate of $3,000,000000 per day since 2006. http://www.usdebtclock.org/
    * The unemployment rate has increased by 7300 per day since 2008.
    * The loss of manufacturing jobs has been 1400 per day since 2006.
    * Without the legalized regulation of opium products Afghanistan will continue to be a bottomless pit in which to throw countless billions of tax dollars and wasted American lives.
    * The hopeless situation in Afghanistan is helping to destabilize it’s neighbor, Pakistan, which is a country with nuclear weapons.
    * The mayhem in Mexico has deteriorated so badly that it’s bordering on farcical.

    There is nothing conservative about prohibition, which enlists the most centralized state power in displacement of domestic and community roles. There is everything authoritarian and subversive about this policy which has incinerated American traditions such as Freedom and Federalism with its puritanical flames. Any person seeking to insure and not further compromise the safety of their family and of their neighbors must not only repudiate prohibition but help spearhead its abolition.

    We will always have adults who are too immature to responsibly deal with tobacco, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, meth, various prescription drugs, gambling and even food. Our answer to them should always be: “Get a Nanny, and stop turning the government into one for the rest of us!”


    • Conservatives 4 Legalization
      December 6, 2010

      MalcolmKyle – I appreciate that you have joined me in spreading the good word.  Soon we will have the voices of millions more Conservative advocates of legalization.  Best Regards, Blizard


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  8. High Country Caregiver
    December 6, 2010

    Cannabis production and distribution should not be inhibited, it should be allowed to thrive.  Come see how far we have come in Colorado with medical marijuana on http://mypot.co medical marijuana news, photos, and fun.


  9. Just Say Now
    December 6, 2010

    Isn’t over regulation and control what the right wing is always squawking against?


  10. Dylan
    December 6, 2010

    Seriously, who cares what Barbara LaWall or any other person that opposed prop 203 has to say about marijuana, we won.  The less dispensaries, the more people will be able to grow there own as intended by nature anyway.  Nanny state?  Let them try to bend the rules, the voters have spoken, they cannot change laws and tailor them to marijuana, people won’t have it, we will flip them the bird and smoke joints on the city hall steps in a mass if that’s the case.  The law was passed by voters and now doctors can prescribe marijuana to patients in Arizona, bottom line.  So you see, it doesn’t actually matter one crumbly bit what this buffoon of a woman  from Pima has to say or where the pot comes from, its legal for medicinal purposes, which we all know will inevitably lead to full blow legalization since anyone will be able to obtain a card, just like we planned, period.  She can fly a broom!


    • ej
      December 8, 2010

      thats right  f the critics we will do as we please


  11. Adam Smith
    December 6, 2010

    Pamela – Thank you for writing this article!  It is exactly on point.  Prohibition is not the conservative approach.  It is ridiculous how out of touch these people are.  What gives them the authority to tell everyone else how to behave?  If you don’t like marijuana, then don’t smoke it! It’s as simple as that.  Adults should have the freedom to partake in a pastime that is safer than taking a shower… and taking showers is pretty damn safe.  That AZ Bar lady is a nutjob.  Why is she limiting the services that attorneys can to patients, including people with cancer.  There are clients out there who need assistance, and there are thousands of lawyers in the state who are out of work.  This lady should be tar and feathered – send her back to Soviet Russia, at LEST!


  12. Conservatives 4 Legalization
    December 6, 2010

    Finally, Conservative support for the End of Prohibition is gaining straight.  I am a Conservative, and have been passionately preaching the message that Legalization is the Conservative choice.  Big Government thinks you shouldn’t smoke, not me.  Conservatives rally behind the herb.  Our kids have an easier time getting their hands on marijuana than alcohol.  Trust me, I was a teenager once.  The high school pot dealers aren’t asking for i.d.’s, but the liquor store cashier is.  Luckily marijuana is better for young people than alcohol!


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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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