Medical-Marijuana Destruction Bill Likely Dead, Says Lobbying Firm; Amendments Possible on Pot-Packaging Bill
State Senator Kimberly Yee's plan to let cops seize and destroy medical-marijuana at their whim appears dead, a political consultant for the dispensary industry says.
State Senator Kimberly Yee introduced two bills this year in an attempt to further regulate the medical-marijuana industry. Critics claim the Republican is trying to undermine the voter-approved program.
Jason Rose, previously a PR guy for the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas, now counts among his clients the Regulated Dispensaries of Arizona Association. The burgeoning industry has been concerned about two of the Republican politician's proposals -- the seizure bill, SB 1441, and a bill that deals with the packaging and advertising of medical marijuana, SB 1440.
As we noted when Yee first floated the bills last month, the seizure bill allowed police to destroy seized medical-marijuana even when the patient had a legal right to possess it. For example, an officer who takes custody of a couple of ounces of pot during an investigation could learn that the patient's registration card was valid, yet would be legally able to destroy the pricey produce.
Rose says he believes that bill has died due to concerns that it might violate Arizona's 1998 Voter Protection Act.
That voter-approved law requires that any law enacted by citizens' initiative, (like Prop. 203), cannot be altered by the State Legislature unless it furthers the intent of the law. Even then, a change requires a two-thirds majority vote.
The seizure bill hasn't been scheduled for any more committee hearings, Rose adds.
Yee's worried the same thing could happen to the packaging and advertising bill, Rose says.
"Late yesterday, Senator Yee called our lobbyist and said, 'I think this bill could die -- let's get together and talk amendments,'" he says.
If the talks don't pan out, the Regulated Dispensaries of Arizona Association will "have no choice but to oppose the bill and try to kill it," Rose says.
The bill requires the state Department of Health Services, which oversees the medical-marijuana program, to "immediately revoke" a dispensary's license to operate if it packages or advertises its products in a way that "misbrands" or states that its use is for something "other than allowable medicinal purposes."
Amendments already adopted for the bill include: Requiring labeling of medical marijuana to use only black text on a white background; and requiring any medical-marijuana package to be white and opaque.
"The whole thing is about protecting children," attorney Kim McEachern of the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Council told us yesterday. The council, a state government agency made up of prosecutors like Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and State Attorney General Tom Horne, is supporting the bill.