How marijuana legalization in Arizona affects med card holders

The rollout of recreational marijuana has been a little bumpy for those with medical marijuana cards, and some industry leaders believe those who use cannabis for medical purposes should continue paying fees to retain their cards despite legalization.

The long lines outside of dispensaries since Friday have become a nuisance for some Arizona medical marijuana card holders.

“It shouldn’t take me 3 hours,” said Mesa resident Kenny Mac. “There should be something different for the medicinal guys and the regular guys. There’s supposed to be, isn’t there?”

Mac’s concerns about legalization have been shared by others who use marijuana medically.

Jon Udell with the Arizona chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws says the lines are an issue that will get better over time, but he blames the current long wait times on ordinances that restrict the size of a dispensary’s footprint.

“They limit the size a dispensary can be, and they really exacerbate the problems that patients are facing with lines,” Udell said.

After voters passed Prop 207, the state’s Department of Health Services allowed more than 80 dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana.

LIST: Businesses in Arizona approved to sell recreational marijuana

FOX 10 has heard complaints about the cost of medical marijuana cards that recreational users don’t have to pay.

“Why am I paying extra money for my stuff and not getting anything extra out of it?” Kenny Mac said.

Between the application fee and doctor’s appointment, a 2-year license can cost up to $300. However, patients don’t have to pay the 16% state sales tax.

A patient would need to spend more than $1,875 over two years to break even on sales tax savings.

“If you’re a daily consumer overtime, it’s probably going to be in your best interest to avoid the taxes,” said Jon Udell.

Udell, who also works as a cannabis attorney, says the most important part of retaining a card despite legalization is the protection a card provides from the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

“If you’re a registered, qualified patient with a medical marijuana card, your employer cannot terminate you for your marijuana consumption off duty unless if you’re working in a safety-sensitive position,” said Udell.

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