Lawmakers in Arizona introduced a new bill that aims to distribute medical cannabis revenue surplus toward anti-cannabis education and law enforcement agencies.
According to Tucson.com, Rep. Vince Leach is backing House Bill 2066, which would allow the Arizona Department of Health Services to use cannabis-generated revenue in order to provide a program that would support “education, awareness and prevention messaging” when it comes to substance abuse. “We should be spending more and more and more of the dollars that are coming in, the dollars that are available, to make sure that our children in school aren’t taking what they think are gummy bears or strawberries or candy when in fact it is medical marijuana,” Leach claimed, according to Tucson.com.
Sen. David Farnsworth also recently proposed an additional bill, Senate Bill 1061, which would like to take $5 million from the same cannabis-generated funds and distribute them to law enforcement agencies, which will then use them “for crimes related to drug trafficking and distribution.”
The state has collected a great sum of money, mainly because of the revenue from annual medical cannabis patient renewal fees, which cost each patient $150 per year. Many patients have been upset with the amount they are required to spend, and although there have been some attempts to lower this fee, no change has been made yet. Leach however is not empathetic regarding this fee, stating that he believes that many medical patients are just gaining access in order to get high, since many patients list “chronic back pain” as their reason for consuming cannabis. Additionally, he stated that doctors are not looking into claims of a medical need for cannabis carefully enough. “We’re obviously not doing a good job of educating people about the harmful effects of drugs, whether they be alcohol, whether they be medical marijuana, whether they be opioids,” he added, according to Arizona Capitol Times.
Unlike other states, Arizona has been in a state of flux for some time with little progression. While medical access was a major step for Arizona in 2010, it is clear that there is still much work to be done before it is fully accepted in the state.