By now you probably know that Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, appears to have passed after all (although the final determination will actually be made when the election is certified on November 29).  The Act identifies ADHS as the organization that’s responsible for carrying out the provisions of the law.  There will be several teams of folks here at ADHS that’ll be working hard during the next 4 months or so as we set up the regulatory network.  We’ve set up a featured site on our homepage that’ll be our information hub for communicating with the public as we make decisions in preparation for implementing the Act.  The website contains (and will continue to contain) all of the relevant public information that we’ll have regarding our implementation activities.  You can also sign up to receive weekly updates on the site.

Implementing the Act will take at least 4 months… and we expect to be able to accept our first applications for medical marijuana (Cannabis) cards and dispensaries in early April, 2011.  In the mean time, we’ll be developing the Administrative Code (Rules) for actually operating and regulating the program.  Here is our schedule for Rule development:

December 17, 2010: ADHS posts an initial informal draft of the Rules.

December 17, 2010 – January 7, 2011: ADHS receives informal (electronic) public comment on the initial informal draft Rules.

January 31, 2011: ADHS posts official draft Rules for public comment.

January 31, 2011 – February 18, 2011: ADHS receive public comment on a revised draft of the Rules.

February 15 – 17, 2011: ADHS holds 3 public meetings about the draft Rules

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 – 1 pm, 250 N 17th Ave., Phoenix

Wednesday, February, 16, 2011 – 1 pm, 400 W. Congress, Room 222, Tucson

Thursday, February 17, 2011 – 1 pm, 250 N 17th Ave., Phoenix

March 28, 2011: ADHS publishes the final Rules that will be used to implement the Act.

April 2011: ADHS begins to accept applications for registry identification cards and for dispensary certificates.

Our goal is to put together a responsible set of regulations between now and April 2011 with the rule package that will capture the core of the Initiative’s intent while placing some checks and balances in the system to prevent some of the excesses that have occurred in other states that have medical marijuana laws (CO, CA, MT etc.).  I also want to make sure that our implementation activities are completely transparent and that everybody has equal access to information.  By using an inclusive process we’ll ensure that we’re getting the best input we can as we implement this new program.