What Conditions can Medical Marijuana Be Used for in Arizona?
By law, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) permits the use of marijuana for the medical treatment of these conditions:
- Cancer: The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) estimated that the department received 1,486 applications in April 2019 alone from cancer patients seeking approval of medical marijuana for their treatments. The National Cancer Institute's observation that marijuana may prevent the growth of some tumors in cancer patients led to many patients seeking its medical use.
- Glaucoma: Marijuana is a proven alternative for the surgical treatment of glaucoma, especially among older patients. It relaxes the Intraocular Pressure (IOP) and prevents damage to any sensitive structures around the eye.
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS): Many HIV and AIDS patients use marijuana to manage the condition's side effects. Marijuana helps alleviate nerve pains and helps patients battle weight loss and loss of appetite.
- Hepatitis C: Marijuana's effectiveness in reducing nausea caused by Hepatitis C made the medical use of marijuana for such treatments acceptable.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): The ADHS permitted the use of marijuana for managing ALS because few studies show it slows down the progress of ALS.
- Crohn's disease: Marijuana's effectiveness in alleviating anxiety and pain, common symptoms of Crohn's disease, is why it is popular among patients of the condition.
- Alzheimer's disease: The medical use of marijuana for treating Alzheimer's disease is because of its efficacy in alleviating common symptoms such as nausea and insomnia.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Marijuana is used medically to treat PTSD symptoms such as nightmares, panic attacks, and hypervigilance.
- Cachexia: This condition mostly suffered by AIDS and cancer patients causes loss of appetite and weight loss. Marijuana is an effective drug because it increases the patient's need.
Other conditions treated by marijuana include seizures (including those caused by epilepsy), severe pain, nausea, and muscle spasms.
What does an MMJ Card Permit in Arizona?
An MMJ card in Arizona guarantees the cardholder some benefits. Some of these are:
- Obtaining an MMJ card permits an individual to be in possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. When Arizona's recent approval of recreational use of marijuana comes into effect, an individual without the MMJ card can only possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
- The AMMA forbids schools and landlords from discriminating against individuals with their MMJ cards over their use of the plant. They can only be rejected when enrolling such individuals in schools or leasing their homes to cardholders make schools and landlords lose some benefits under federal law.
- An MMJ card will also save the cardholder from receiving any punishment for a positive drug test conducted by an employer. However, this immunity is revoked if the cardholder used or possessed marijuana on the workplace premises. The cardholder will also face any consequence resulting from impairment to work owing to the use of marijuana during office hours.
- An MMJ cardholder is also eligible to tax rebates that ensure purchasing the plant at subsidized costs compared to a recreational user without the MMJ card when the recreational use of marijuana comes into effect.
How long is an Arizona medical marijuana card valid?
The passage of the SB1494 bill by the Arizona Legislature and the subsequent signing and enactment of the bill into law by Governor Doug Ducey in 2019 extended the validity of medical marijuana cards to two years. The law also approved extending the validity of the cards issued to caregivers and dispensary agents to two years each. Prior to the extension, medical marijuana cards in Arizona were only valid for a year. To renew medical marijuana cards, interested individuals must apply for renewals at least 30 days before the expiration date. It should also be noted that MMJ cards issued as replacements for non-expired cards will bear the same expiry dates as the cards to be replaced.
Does Arizona have Medical Marijuana Reciprocity?
Yes, Arizona has medical marijuana reciprocity. Medical marijuana reciprocity refers to instances where states have the same laws regarding purchasing and using medical marijuana. This similarity in medical marijuana laws permits cardholders from particular states to retain all or some of the benefits accruing to medical marijuana cardholders when they visit other states. Currently, the states that have adopted medical marijuana reciprocity are:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
Is an MMIC Valid outside of Arizona?
The Arizona statute is silent on the validity of issued MMICs outside the state. Arizona's medical marijuana reciprocity only recognizes out-of-state MMJ cardholders' right to use and possess medicinal marijuana in the state.
Does Arizona Accept Medical Marijuana Cards issued by another State?
Arizona offers limited reciprocity for medical marijuana to qualified visiting individuals and accepts their medical marijuana cards in some instances. Persons that fall into these categories qualify as visiting qualifying patients:
- The individuals must not be resident in Arizona and must have stayed for less than 30 days in the state.
- The persons must have any of the medical conditions recognized by the AMMA as those eligible to be treated with medical marijuana.
- The visiting individuals must possess out-of-state MMJ cards or their equivalent issued according to other states' laws.
Individuals with out-of-state MMJ cards retain some of the rights Arizonian cardholders possess, including the right to use and possess up to about 2.5 ounces of marijuana in the state. However, these visiting qualified patients cannot purchase medical marijuana legally in the state.
Does an Arizona MMIC Protect Me Under Federal Law?
Marijuana, in any guise, is still illegal under federal law. The US federal law does not recognize state-issued MMICs. In practice, however, the federal government does not actively prosecute qualifying patients who comply with state laws.