Arizona Compassion Club Helps Obtain Medical Marijuana for Qualified Patients

Categories: Medical Weed

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Want pot?


Are you one of Arizona's 6,000-plus, card-carrying, qualified medical marijuana patients? Or a valid patient from another state?


Join the club.


In a creative work-around to the state's lack of marijuana dispensaries, a group of card-holding patients are offering various strains of buds, edibles and tinctures in exchange for donations from club members. The Arizona Compassion Club operates out of several Valley offices, and the people running the clubs believe they're perfectly legal.


The group's Phoenix location at 2701 East Thomas Road has been open since mid-April, and the club's staff members say police have been inside several times, apparently without seeing any problems.

Image: Jamie Peachey
Bill Hayes, an Arizona Compassion Club volunteer and qualified patient, smokes marijuana he obtained as one of the benefits of club membership.

The club's activities appear to be authorized under the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, as far as we can tell. The law states that qualified patients cannot face any penalty whatsoever for:

...offering or providing marijuana to a registered qualifying patient or a registered designated caregiver for the registered qualifying patient's medical use ... if nothing of value is transferred in return and the person giving the marijuana does not knowingly cause the recipient to possess more than the allowable amount of marijuana.

This is the sort of arrangement going on at Arizona Compassion Club at 2701 East Thomas Road in Phoenix, according to Nick Monte, one of the principle members. Monte gave us a card with his name on it that references several other statutes.

"We deliver!" the card also touts.

"I'm not worried," Monte says. "We're not doing anything wrong. There are thousands of patients out there. We're just trying to provide a service to patients."

The suite on Thomas Road, located in a complex with tax preparers, lawyers and other, more traditional office users, is a "safe, comfortable" place with a professional staff who are also patients, he says.

This is one sweet-smelling suite: The aroma of high-quality marijuana fills the air. There's a waiting room with a TV running a loop of pot-related videos and lists of plant varieties. A poster on the glass wall that separates another room contains various posters about the different strains and types of ailments they might help. In the other room are two tables where staff members discuss what's needed with patients and hand out the marijuana.

The club has two other locations: 123 East Baseline Road, Suite D206, in Tempe and 1307 East Southern Avenue, Suite 101, in Mesa.

Don't bother going to those offices looking for weed if you're not a bona fide patient. The staff checks the state-issued certification cards diligently, even using ultraviolet lights to make a hidden hologram on the cards glow.

The club charges $1 to join. Then, once a member, patients make donations and, as part of the benefits of being a member, can obtain medicine that's "gifted" from other patients. Staff members tells patients it's not a commercial transaction. At no point does the amount for each patient exceed the statutory maximum of 2.5 ounces.

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Image: New Times photo illustration

Monte claims about 700 members with maladies ranging from Stage Four lung cancer to chronic and severe pain. Often, members thank the staff profusely for helping them reduce their intake of opiate-based prescription drugs, Monte says. In fact, some drug treatment facilities have even referred clients to the club, with the goal being to limit their addiction to hard drugs, he says.

"We're volunteers -- we work other jobs," says Bill Hayes, a staff member who's also the founder of an advocacy and instructional group called the Arizona Cannabis Society.

Similar clubs or even quasi-businesses in which patients sell to patients are cropping up in other places in the state, as can be seen from online advertisements. In addition to the club model, the state Department of Health Services Web site states specifically that qualified patients can obtain pot from other patients:

QP30: Where can I legally buy marijuana if I am a qualifying patient?
Qualifying patients can obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary, the qualifying patient's designated caregiver, another qualifying patient, or, if authorized to cultivate, from home cultivation.

We blogged about a different patient-to-patient group that ran into trouble last week; we're still following up on that case, in which Gilbert police raided an office suite in Tempe.

With the dispensary business in Arizona on hold because of the anti-voter efforts of Governor Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Tom Horne, these services are filling in the supply gap for thousands of patients' demand.

Staff members at the Arizona Compassion Club say their medicine comes from now-legal sources. Qualified patients can grow up to 12 plants each, for example.

Some patients began growing before the state Department of Health Services began issuing cards that allow cultivation, evidently.

As for where to get those cards, which are always needed in order to legally obtain medicine: There's a place with a doctor on staff convienently located next to the Arizona Compassion Club's Thomas Road location called CSA Advocates.

It's unclear whether places like the Compassion Club are on firm legal ground.

"The fact that we know about (the Tempe location) doesn't mean they have our blessing," says Tempe police spokesman Steve Carbajal. "The donation part kind of makes it more of a gray area."

He's not willing to say what the club is doing is illegal or legal, he emphasizes. However, Tempe PD is "looking into a few places for some potential violations," he adds. "So many people are really walking close to that line of what's legal and what's not legal."

Carbajal wouldn't comment on whether the Arizona Compassion Club is one of the places facing possible police scrutiny.

Raiding such places seems like a bad idea on a number of fronts, though -- the main reason being that such a move would likely send hundreds of patients toward black-market dealers.

Brewer and Horne may have derailed the dispensary program for now.

But because of these clubs, patients now have an ostensibly legal alternative to dispensaries. In other words, the law is finally working as it should, albeit in a more scattershot, unregulated way.



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82 comments
Samantha
Samantha

I live in Tucson Arizona and can't afford the big bucks you need to pay just to get the medicinal marijuana card.  I feel my guts have been ripped out.  Is there any help out there?

1m2
1m2

Just waiting on my card in the mail. I think I will visit this place as I'm not comfy as it is because mainstream society has outcasted this method and declared it dangerous for some. Don't believe the hype! Drug companies I'm sure have there hands in the pot (pun intended) with these politicians and don't want you to use this natural resource so that you continue to buy their addictive meds. Brewer is just another puppet dancing for the crowd. Anyway I'm glad there are places and people like this that just want to help!

Chris Mollo
Chris Mollo

This is completely legal.  Good job to those who decided to follow th elaw and do this the right way.  That dispensary case is nothing but a weak, voter opposed smokescreen.  The Governor should be working on real issues that concern public safety and welfare.  Prop 203 poses no risk to the public health or safety and it is a misappropriation of police funds and tax[ayer dollars to raid these places.

Ordon234
Ordon234

They have a good cause in putting up their organization. However,they should be regulated by the government to avoid drug abuse.

Pike County Hospice

Sam
Sam

I live in Yuma and I don't drive, dose anyone know if anybody comes to Yuma to get the medical marijuana to people with cards. Please contact me at gysgtsam@aol.com. Or phone me at 928 783 3662.  Thank You All

NewtoAZ
NewtoAZ

Hi, I am moving to Tempe in 2 weeks and am a current Michigan Card holder. Your article mentions any state. Will I be able to obtain my meds through your club until my AZ card can be obtained?

Lorie Forrest
Lorie Forrest

Is it still a "Donation" if the price, oh sorry, "donation" amount is fixed & firm?

Dispensary Biz News
Dispensary Biz News

Interesting way to work around some of the hurdles posed by Gov. Brewer's recent move. Although, I wouldn't count on these being allowed to operate much longer for the exact reason I mentioned above (Gov. Brewer).

Jason
Jason

I read about this and went to the Compassion Club in Mesa. It was easy to get a membership (with a mmj card) and the quality of medicine is great. The prices are high -$60 an 1/8. Atleast it is a good safe place to get medicine. 

How To
How To

Good work guys! Every dispensary that opens is another blow to the failed drug war! I wrote a book to help people get in the dispensary business, check it out:

http://www.How-To-Open-A-Dispe...

MM Care Connect
MM Care Connect

Looking for a private way to find your medicine or a way to privately advertise you are a caregiver?  Vist www.mmcareconnect.com  Membership upgrades are being given away to first people who sign up.

Corey Miller
Corey Miller

While there is nothing in the AMMA that prohibits patients from setting up a system to share medicine. However in section 36-2804.03. Issuance of registry identification cardsC. A registry identification card, or its equivalent, that is issued under the laws of another state, district, territory, commonwealth or insular possession of the United States that allows a visiting qualifying patient to possess or use marijuana for medical purposes in the jurisdiction of issuance has the same force and effect when held by a visiting qualifying patient as a registry identification card issued by the department, except that a visiting qualifying patient is not authorized to obtain marijuana from a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary.

So no out of state patients for AZ.

Bobby101
Bobby101

Great article.  Glad to hear that there are places like this.  www.thegreenleafaz.com has another compassion club too on there, but i've been to the ACC and it's great...the volunteers are very knowledgeable and compassionate

SmotPoker
SmotPoker

http://arizonacannabissociety.... is the greatest site in Arizona, people will help you with everything mmj related there, from finding a doctor, to finding you medicine... if you're a medical marijuana patient, spare no time signing up for that website.

Maven
Maven

Noticed that AZDHS website has been updated:

"ADHS suspended the dispensary portion of the Medical Marijuana Act until the end of a lawsuit. Before filling out your application, you may want to consider how you plan to get your medicine. You may want to request to cultivate or designate a caregiver during the application process. Please note that if you choose to designate a caregiver for this purpose, you as a patient cannot also cultivate. Once you have designated a caregiver, the caregiver application process must also be completed. The designated caregiver application can be completed at: http://www.azdhs.gov/medicalma.... Please take special note of caregiver-specific application instructions"

More - https://medicalmarijuana.azdhs...

Rebecca
Rebecca

Hock said "I'm not doing anything in Gilbert...I avoid driving through it...and I'm certainly not going to spend any money there.  Screw them."

I'm with you Hock....  I definitely won't spend ANY money in Gilbert Arizona again.  I had to hold my nose and do it before, but now I REFUSE to spend a dime in Gilbert!!!

Monica Berini
Monica Berini

Great interview! We The Voters of the State of Arizona Needed this alternative to Opiate Drug Addiction! Thank you AZCS for all you do to help  MMJ patients ease their pains and suffering.

Hock
Hock

I'm not doing anything in Gilbert...I avoid driving through it...and I'm certainly not going to spend any money there.  Screw them.

oldschool
oldschool

Sorry but im old school (how old you ask ? 54),This is big money for the people involved,we have been given smoke,for free from God,the gods,the big bang,the fish,ect,I will be a care giver soon,and am looking to cash in ,but not by way of money,I would like your time ,help,love,offer me lunch,good MMJ can be grown for about 100 bucks a POUND thats from seed to buds.so wtf,4 finger lid 20 bucks Boooo yaa!Thats were we need to be

Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

 EXAMPLE: A patient goes in and says they want to donate 60 dollars to the compassion club. They give the volunteer their donation and then they can go to another area where they can choose from a variety of items that have been donated by various other local patients. These patients have asked for a reimbursement for the production cost of their item. ACC sends these items to a 3rd party for testing. The price of the testing AND the price of the reimbursement is what determines the suggested donation amount.

So if you donate 60 dollars and you like medibles you can get a variety of medibles for your donation. You can also get smoke-able medication or a mix of both. It is strictly up to the patient in the facility making the donation as to what they leave with in exchange for the donation.

Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

 Apparently not everyone understands prop 203 like we do.

Gov. Brewer cannot stop the patient caregiver portion of the Law. She cannot stop a patient to patient based service as it is DIRECTLY allowed in the law and any regulation of it would have been placed there, instead it is omitted as I stated above.

Bigjim
Bigjim

The prices at these clubs are higher, I think, because it prevents people from obtaining legally at these clubs and then selling it on the street.  In other words, if your buying an 1/8th for $60, chances are that you are not going to sell it on the "street" because there is no room to make money.  But the compassion club in mesa sometimes has medicine for $50...i've gotten some good meds for $50

Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

correct out of state visiting patients cannot use a dispensry as they cannot be in the AZ registry system without an AZ card. They can however get medication LEGALLY from another qualified patient. AZCS started by helping patients from other MMJ states visiting our state get their medication. As long as our LAW says your legal AZCS will help ya !!

J Curwen
J Curwen

I agree wholeheartedly. BTW, I have no financial relationship with them, either.

Monica Berini
Monica Berini

I also noticed the change forms are still not available on AZDH web site Per a phone call from them stating the change forms would be available Friday June  24,2011

Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

The thanks goes to the members that use our services and get medication through legal means while our politicians make up their minds, rather than try and get medication through the black market or other illegal means. We are doing our best to fill the gap created by the legislation itself and the "halting" of the dispensary allocation process by Gov. Brewer.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Meth is better in AJ anyhow, so you won't be missing out on anything with you boycott.

Attorneymike
Attorneymike

No, I think you have to have your card but their is a provision in prop 203 that states that visiting cardholders are legal in AZ for 30 days...however, just like with everything that has to do with MMJ and legalese, it's not clear if you can obtain from other patients that are current AZ cardholders.

MM Care Connect
MM Care Connect

We are offering free memberships for the first users. However, we feel if someone wants a quality caregiver that fits their needs, it takes more than just a forum post or craigslist ad. Our membership includes many extras to control the QUALITY of patients and caregivers on our site, give lots of ways to communicate safely, securely, and anonymously.

Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

thanks to the both of you!! Comments like this are why we do what we do.

Lennaz26
Lennaz26

Are the change forrms online yet.  Please e-,ail me at lennaz26@yahoo.com  I appreciate anyones help.  Thank you lenny  I got a letter with the website but nothing comes back.

Vellomello
Vellomello

Per the new law, if the ADHS in unable to process or amend a persons application within 45 days of their request to do so, a notarized statement will serve as legal proof. I have two patients who have designated me as their caregiver but cannot amend their application via adhs so they have had statements notarized attesting their wish to have me helpin them.

doug swanson
doug swanson

If there is another option i would like to know I have card and need a hand up not necisarily a hand out. Willing to help give back to club with deliveries and sales

doug swanson
doug swanson

fMy biggest problem is Im disabled but have not made a chk in 2 years yet the local caregivers still want full street prices. I have had 4 back surgeries my jaw has been replaced 2wice then just had hardware go bad and now have now bone on Left side of jaw and have epilepsy but the pricing sucks when your left with a decision of $30 for 30 month bottle of opiates or $100 for a weeks worth of meds witch take care of 3 other pills which i would not have to take if medications were somewhat resonable for people with no income and very bad need for opiate, anti epileptics, insomnia, appetite and 24/7 chronic pain meds replacement 

J Curwen
J Curwen

As soon as my card comes through I'll be paying a visit, cash in hand.

LoLo
LoLo

Meth is a dangerous drug and not a drug that any of us want for pain or anything else.  No wonder you seem to be an ass.  You are a meth head idiot.  What is wrong with you?!!!  Get off Meth you Dope!  Meth heads don't even like Mary jane.

Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

 If by "forum post" your talking about my sites then you might wanna take another look. We are very secure, just ask our 400+ members how they feel about it.

and we do NOT allow members that maintain Craig's list ad's to stay on our forum. The members can not only converse with other patients that have used our services or a particular patient/caregiver's services, review them, tell others,  but they can make up their own minds as to which caregiver suits their needs the best, not someone else.

We also offer GCMS testing for all patient medication through Delta 9 Lab's ;)

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