How SB 1466 Could Transform Arizona’s Medical Marijuana
A new Senate bill is making its way through the Arizona legislature. Senate Bill 1466 (SB1466) has already been approved by the Senate and passed a Health and Human Services Committee hearing with unanimous support. If it maintains the support of the House and is signed into law by Gov. Katie Hobbs, it could mean big changes for medical marijuana in the Grand Canyon State.
What Is Arizona SB 1466?
Known as the Medical Omnibus Bill, SB 1466 seeks to introduce some long-overdue updates to Arizona’s medical marijuana program. The bill was introduced to the Senate by Sen. Thomas Shope in January, and it has since enjoyed strong momentum in the legislature. It’s also strongly supported by the Arizona Dispensaries Association, an advocacy organization that promotes a consumer-focused cannabis industry in the state and educates buyers about the importance of shopping at only licensed dispensaries.
Arizona’s medical marijuana program was first approved by voters in 2010 via Proposition 203. Thirteen years later, the stipulations of the program are still almost identical to what they were 13 years ago. But in that time, the landscape for cannabis has changed tremendously. We now have recreational marijuana available, and a growing body of research has shed light on additional conditions that may benefit from medicinal cannabis. SB 1466 seeks to bring Arizona’s MMJ program into the modern age.
What SB 1466 Means for the Price of MMJ Certification
Perhaps most notably, SB 1466 would decrease the medical marijuana application fee to no more than $50 for first-time applicants and $50 for renewals. Currently, a medical marijuana card costs $150 ($75 for SNAP recipients). The bill’s passage would mean huge savings across the board. Cardholders would still need to renew every two years, but the cost would be much lower than it is now.
In addition, all U.S. military veterans would have their fees waived. With a valid military ID, you would qualify for a free medical marijuana card and free renewals.
New Qualifying Conditions Under SB 1466
SB 1466 maintains all Arizona qualifying medical conditions originally highlighted in prop 203, including severe chronic pain, muscle spasms, seizures, cancer, AIDS, cachexia, and hepatitis C. It also adds two new conditions not originally included in prop 203: autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Though it was once considered controversial, autism is now recognized as a qualifying condition by a growing number of states, including Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, and Louisiana. If SB 1466 passes, Arizona will become the latest state to recognize the medicinal value of cannabis for managing autism symptoms. Under the terms of the bill, autism patients must be diagnosed by a licensed physician or psychologist who specializes in autism spectrum disorders.
Other Changes Under SB 1466
Senate Bill 1466 introduces several other notable changes as well:
Medical cannabis products must be secured in child-resistant packaging.
Cannabis products cannot be advertised in any way that would be appealing to children.
The right to telemedicine medical marijuana certifications will be codified into law.
All branding, advertising, and packaging rules will be brought into accordance with the Arizona Smart and Safe Act (Proposition 207—which legalized adult-use cannabis in the state).
The state’s track-and-trace system will be expanded to better trace cannabis products throughout the entire journey of cultivation, processing, manufacturing, and distribution.
The state’s third-party lab testing requirements will be amended for better transparency and clarity.
There are other changes noted throughout the bill as well, most of which pertain to the ways in which cannabis is tracked, tested, marketed, and advertised. The changes would mean great things for Arizona’s medical marijuana program, and we’re hopeful that the bill passes.
Is It Still Worth Getting a Medical Cannabis Card?
In light of the expanding recreational marketplace, some patients are understandably left wondering if they still need a medical marijuana card in the first place. SB 1466 in part seeks to address these concerns by making the medical marijuana program more accessible and more affordable to more people.
If you qualify as a patient, the answer is yes, it’s still worth it to get certified for your medical cannabis treatment. Not only will you pay less at the dispensary, but you’ll have access to more products and privileges. You’ll even qualify for perks like cannabis delivery, which is especially valuable for patients who struggle with limited mobility or transportation.
Whether or not SB 1466 ultimately becomes law, Arizona has an excellent medical marijuana program that truly puts the needs of the patient first. If passed, the bill would just add a few more perks and protections to an already thriving program.