Like many lawmakers recently, Senator Kimberly Yee wants to make changes to Arizona’s medical marijuana law. Compared to her colleagues, Yee’s changes are tame, but they would mean new practices for dispensary owners, patients, and police.
Yee plans to introduce two separate bills today. In order to amend the Arionza Medical Marijuana Act, she would have to obtain a 3/4 majority vote by the Legislature.
The first bill that will be introduced by Yee aims to force medical marijuana dispensaries to label edibles, such as cookies or brownies infused with marijuana, to make it clear that they are not for use by children and are to be consumed only for medical purposes.
Yee has suggested that the packaging resemble the US surgeon general’s warning on cigarettes. The goal of the new labels would be to protect unknowing consumers. It would keep edibles out of the hands of children or unsuspecting individuals who did not realize they were about to consume marijuana.
She said, “We are finding the products being produced that contain marijuana appear to be geared toward the youngest consumer– we’re talking about lollipops, chocolate bars, and things that appeal to a minor. And it is something the parents and consumers should clearly be aware of before purchasing that product.”
The second bill that will be introduced by Yee will give police the power to destroy or dispose of any drugs seized during criminal investigations once inquiries are completed. Currently, police are required to store the drugs and care for the plants in case courts order them returned to a patient.
County Attorney Sheila Polk supports this bill, because she believes that currently police are required to take too much responsibility for the confiscated drugs. She explained, “If law enforcement goes in, and there’s 14 plants, and they pull out the plants… and the expectation is that they have to be returned, what’s law enforcement to do? Plant the plants, water them and continue to cultivate them? The idea that law enforcement would be cultivating marijuana is an outrageous idea.”
Medical marijuana advocates, however, do not approve of the proposed bill to allow police to destroy medical marijuana after it is seized. Doug Banfelder, board member of the Arizona Wellness Chamber of Commerce, stated, “What if the accused are acquitted or charges aren’t brought — it’s still their property. They’d have a right to have it back. It’s still their property.”
In order to make changes to a voter approved law, a lawmaker must believe that the changes will advance the intent of the original law. Yee is confident that these two bills would advance the original intent of Arizona’s medical marijuana law.