Gage Skidmore

Arizona Lawmaker Pulls Anti-Medical Cannabis Bill After Storm of Complaints

A Republican legislator in Arizona has pulled a bill that would have limited access to medical cannabis after facing hundreds of complaints from Arizona residents.

Rep. Jay Lawrence, of Scottsdale, had introduced a bill to remove physicians who practice alternative medicine — including naturopathy and homeopath — from the list of qualified doctors who are allowed to recommend cannabis for medical use by their patients. Only doctors of medicine and osteopathy would have been allowed to recommend cannabis.

Speaking with the the Arizona Republic, Lawrence explained his original reasoning for the bill: 

“I find marijuana is a threat and its use by young people is a threat — they are threats because they are stoned. They are threats because they are driving, they are threats because at their business … they might handle machinery and be stoned… I didn’t know what medical marijuana would do to society.”

According to an Arizona Department of Health report, more than 87 percent of medical cannabis referrals in Arizona come from alternative medicine practitioners.

The measure would also have forced patients to renew their recommendation every six months, rather than every year.

Rep. Lawrence withdrew the bill after he received hundreds of complaints by email and phone from voters and patients. He issued an apology to Arizonans, stating that he had not done enough research on the matter before introducing the legislation.

“We received so many calls,” Lawrence told the Phoenix New Times. “I had heard anecdotally that [the cards] are handed out wildly. I learned from the callers that there is a lot more care taken by naturopaths than I had originally been told.” Lawrence also said that he has no plans to introduce a similar bill in the future.

“I became more sympathetic when I learned it’s not just a gimme,” he said. Patients “are not getting a pass. [Naturopaths and homeopaths] are legitimately getting medical records.”

In December 2015, nearly 88,000 Arizonans had medical marijuana cards.

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