Licensing medical marijuana stirs up trouble for states; perspective provided by Ryan Hurley, Rose Law Group Partner and Director of Medical Marijuana Department

State Health Department employees use a bingo ball machine to randomly-selected which medical marijuana dispensary is eligible to operate in one of the 126 dispensary areas in the state./ PHOTO: Arizona Department of Health Services
State Health Department employees use a bingo ball machine to randomly-selected which medical marijuana dispensary is eligible to operate in one of the 126 dispensary areas in the state./ PHOTO: Arizona Department of Health Services

By Rebecca Beitsch | Stateline

The seven lucky balls that popped out of the Arizona Department of Health Services lottery machine in October produced big winners — not in the state’s Powerball game, but in the competition to make money in the medical marijuana industry.

The prize winners were granted licenses to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where patients with prescriptions to treat conditions such as glaucoma and cancer spent $215 million last year on marijuana products. Arizona’s public health officials awarded most licenses based on rules designed to place new dispensaries within range of the greatest number of medical-marijuana patients. But when it wasn’t clear which applicant was in the most patient-dense area, they used a lottery to randomly select the winners, hoping to sidestep conflict.

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