Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona has just one more day to sign a bill that would require lab testing of medical marijuana products and reduce the cost to patients who access the state’s medicinal cannabis program. The measure, Senate Bill 1494, would require the testing of cannabis products for pesticides, mold, and fungus by November 1, 2020, and mandates that the state Department of Health Services implement standards for the certification of cannabis analytical testing laboratories.
SB 1494 was passed unanimously by both houses of Arizona’s legislature on May 27, in the House of Representatives by a vote of 60 to 0 and in the state Senate by a margin of 28 to 0.
Republican Rep. Nancy Barto of Phoenix told her colleagues in the House before the vote that the government should ensure the quality and safety of medical marijuana products sold in the state.
“We had some serious testimony on it just pointing out the need to make sure the quality of what is being prescribed is there and not being contaminated and hurting those that are consuming this product,” Barto said.
Bill Reduces Patient Fees
Before the bill was approved by the legislature, Democratic Rep. Randy Freise of Tucson added an amendment to the measure that increases to two years the amount of time that medical marijuana identification cards issued by the state are valid. The identification cards, which are required for patients and cost $150, are currently good for only one year.
“A lot of work went into this with a lot of stakeholders,” Friese told his fellow representatives when he introduced the amendment.
Last year, a bill that would have reduced the annual fee for identification cards from $150 to $75 was rejected by Democrats because it did not go far enough, according to Republican Rep. Kevin Payne of Peoria.
“This year we said let’s double the amount of time the card is good for, that’s just as good,” said Payne.
Ensuring Cannabis is Safe
Payne added that Arizona‘s cannabis industry should prioritize the safety of medical marijuana for the state’s patients.
“Marijuana wants to be treated like medicine, it ought to be acting like medicine,” he said. “I want them to have testing. Even aspirin has a label on it.”
SB 1494 is supported by the Arizona Public Health Association and the Arizona Cannabis Laboratory Association. The Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Dispensaries Association, and two large cannabis producers, Copperstate Farms and Harvest Health and Recreation, have not taken a position on the measure.
Demitri Downing, the founder of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association, characterized SB 1494 as a “compromise bill that doesn’t contain everything that everyone wanted, but that’s what good legislation does.”
Ducey has until Saturday to sign or veto SB 1494. If he does nothing, the bill will still go into effect without his endorsement.
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