Medical marijuana facilities switching from caregivers to dispensaries

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Dozens of medical marijuana facilities in Arizona are switching from caregivers, who grow and provide the medication to patients, to dispensaries, similar to conventional pharmacies.

"Compassion First" is one of the facilities that won a license via a state lottery on Tuesday.  In about two months, patients will be able to go to one of its dispensaries and get medical marijuana grown directly by the non-profit. 

"There are a lot of areas for scrutiny, so we play by the rules and go to extremes to make sure everything we do is on point, and compliant with Arizona state law," said Jeff Millicent, of Compassion First.

The dispensaries will be overseen by the Arizona Department of Health Services. They will be monitored through a computer system linked to the dispensaries, and field inspectors who will make unannounced visits to facilities.

"The data is not allowed to be shared.  We use it to regulate patients and dispensaries, but even we can't use it for other purposes besides that," said Health Services Director Will Humble.

Patients must have a state-issued card, based on a doctor's recommendation, and a documented medical history of chronic conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, debilitating pain, HIV, AIDS, and Alzheimer's Disease. 

Patients can only possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana at a time, or 12 plants. They can grow marijuana only if there isn't a dispensary within 25 miles of their home.

A full list of the conditions, and frequently asked questions, can be found on the Health Services website.