Lake Havasu City A medical marijuana dispensary, called Havasu Green, is on track to open in Lake Havasu City in late July — a measure that could upset the norm for marijuana-growing caregivers and suspected illegal home-delivery operations to medical marijuana cardholders.
Joel Williams, the general manager of Green Consortium, oversees the establishment and day-to-day operations of five medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona. Dispensary locations include Fort Mohave, Kingman, Havasu, Parker and Yuma. The dispensary names, respectively, are Mohave Green, Kingman Green, Havasu Green, Parker Green and Yuma Green.
At this time, dispensaries in Kingman and Fort Mohave are open. Dispensaries in Havasu and Parker are both expected to be open in late July. The opening date of the location in Yuma is yet to be determined.
“Dispensaries will open with a full supply of edibles: brownies, cookies, hot sauce, lollipops, barbecue-rubs, candies, creams for things like crow’s feet around your eyes, tinctures and oils,” Williams said.
The dispensary owners, like the patients, of the dispensaries are confidential unless they wish to identify themselves, according to Arizona state law. In this case, the owners of the collection of dispensaries wish to remain anonymous. Furthermore, the location of the Havasu dispensary also won’t be disclosed until it is ready to open its doors.
Each dispensary will have a different inventory of medicine and will have the capability to transport medicines from one location to another in order to fill patients’ orders.
“To increase the number of strains available, deliveries may come from any of the five dispensaries and not necessarily the closest one to you,” Williams said.
The dispensaries operate much like a doctor’s office. There is a waiting room with a reception desk where the patient presents his or her medical marijuana card for verification.
Only cardholders are permitted beyond the waiting room when called. A security buzzer sounds, and the patient makes his or her way through a security door into one of the dispensaries bud-tender rooms. The room is comparable to that of a smoke shop, with display cases.
Within the cases are about a dozen various strains of medicine and edibles.
Bud tenders within the rooms work with the separate patients to best identify which type of marijuana will be most beneficial in treating their ailments.
Because the dispensaries are designed with more than one bud-tender room, multiple patients can be helped at any one time.
How the medicine is ingested is up to the patient. Utensils, such as pipes or rolling papers, are typically available at any area smoke shop. Vaporizers are recommended to avoid carcinogens that can enter the lungs through the smoking method of ingestion. Edibles act as yet another conduit to get the medicine into the body.
With minimum monthly purchases set forth by the dispensary, the consortium will pay for the patient’s annual medical marijuana card renewal.
The owners group soon will be hiring help for dispensaries in Havasu and Kingman. In all, each will employ about five people. All are required to be card-carrying medical marijuana dispensary agents registered with the Arizona Department of Health Services. All also are required to pass a background check and be fingerprinted. Security measures at the dispensaries are comparable to that of a bank.
Havasu dispensary hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Parker dispensary hours of operation will me 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The marijuana is grown at multiple undisclosed locations and regularly delivered to the dispensaries.
The medicine stems from two major strains, Indica and Sativa. For example, the Indica-founded strains provide the patient a relaxing effect and is known to induce sleep. Sativa strains provide more of an energizing experience, Williams said.
There are thousands of sub-strains stemming from those two categories, hybrids developed over the last 30 years, he said.
At the dispensary, the strains vary in price. For example, an ounce of medical marijuana begins at about $160.
“Unlike illegal street marijuana, the medicine is med-lab tested in Phoenix to ensure there are no pesticides, insecticides, no additives, no poisons,” Williams said.
The marijuana’s THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) content also is posted on all of the various strains.
“Most people don’t buy an ounce,” Williams said. “Most people buy anywhere from a gram, to an eighth ounce, a quarter ounce, half ounce, to an ounce, or up to legal limit, which is 2.5 ounces every two weeks, or five ounces a month.”
Like anything else, a patient gets more for their money in quantity. And some strains contain up to 24 percent THC.
“The medicinal values (of marijuana) are incredible, and to be clear, this is not to smoke or eat just to get high,” Williams said.
If a patient currently has grower’s rights, they can legally possess as many as a dozen plants. The cultivation aspect was for patients living more than 25 miles from a dispensary. With the dispensaries beginning to open, those patients can continue to grow until their annual medical marijuana card expires. The renewed card will no longer allow the patient to cultivate.
If those patients choose to cultivate, they’ll be in violation of the law and could face felony criminal charges. Additionally, the dispensaries can’t purchase patient cultivation overages.
“The dispensary is a gatekeeper against illegal activity,” Williams said. “The only legal purchase of marijuana in this state is at a dispensary under Arizona health department regulations. Any purchase from anywhere else — from coops, cannabis clubs or curriers — is a felony on both ends.
Home delivery services for the homebound, if not regulated by the state as the dispensaries’ delivery services, also are operating illegally, he said.
Furthermore, once the dispensaries open, a caregiver-cultivator card ceases to exist when the patient is within 25 miles of a dispensary. The distance is determined from the patient’s residence, not the caregiver’s.
“Legal growing by a patient will have been eliminated for about 90 percent of the patients throughout the state,” Williams said. “Patient growing is on the way out under Arizona law.”
Patients aren’t allowed to share their marijuana with non-card holding individuals. Patients also aren’t allowed to sell their medicine. Both acts are felonies in the state.
In three years, Williams’ Herbal Remedies has certified at least 1,500 patients in the area.
“Over 50 percent (of patients) are over 50-years-old,” he said.
Patients turn to medical marijuana for ailments or conditions including advanced cancer diagnoses, Hepatitis C, glaucoma, severe and chronic pain.
“A lot of these people are getting off pharmaceuticals that are ruining their organs, and going to the alternative medical marijuana, which is a natural herb,” Williams said.
Herbal Remedies assists patients in obtaining their medical marijuana card to legally use, possess and purchase medical marijuana in Arizona.
Each patient is required to have a doctor’s note, a lab sheet, or hospital paperwork showing the diagnosis. The diagnosis must be dated within the past 12 months. A second doctor, through Herbal Remedies, makes a recommendation for the card. Currently, prices are $139 plus state taxes. Card renewal costs the same through the company.
State taxes range from $75 to $150, depending on if a patient participates in the state’s food stamp program. Because the program is income-based, the state uses it as a qualifying indicator for patients. Food stamp participants pay the discounted price of $75. Food stamps cannot be used to purchase edibles at the dispensary. All other individuals pay the $150 in state taxes.
Medical marijuana cardholder information is confidential when it comes to employers, landlords and law enforcement. And employers cannot discriminate against medical marijuana patients, he said. For more information, contact Williams at 928-846-9191, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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