By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services/Arizona Daily Star
State health officials selected the first 97 potential operators of medical marijuana dispensaries Tuesday amid threats of litigation on multiple fronts.
The voter initiative allowing the sale of medical marijuana provides for 126 such dispensaries distributed among the state’s “community health analysis areas.”
Sixty-eight of those areas were hotly contested, drawing a total of 404 applicants. Winners in those areas were selected through a random lottery. Another 29 areas drew only one applicant each.
Two areas had bidders but none was selected because of legal disputes. The remaining areas had no applicants.
By law, the state cannot identify the successful applicants or even the locations where they plan to operate.
The only people who will get a list are the nearly 30,000 Arizonans who have state-issued cards allowing them to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks to treat specified medical conditions.