Arizona Lawmakers seek restrictions on MMJ

A pair of Arizona lawmakers are each proposing bills that, if approved, could decrease the state’s MMJ patient population.

A bill proposed by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, would prohibit naturopaths and homeopaths from recommending medical marijuana, reported. A second proposal by Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, would criminalize marijuana possession for pregnant women, even when MMJ is recommended by a doctor.

Both bills require a super-majority vote for passage, as the state’s medical marijuana law was enacted through voter referendum. They would then have to survive legal challenges under the state’s Voter Protection Act, which restricts lawmakers’ ability to amend laws enacted via ballot initiatives.

Under Arizona’s current law, naturopaths and homeopaths along with allopathic physicians and osteopathic physicians are allowed to recommend medical marijuana. Lawrence contends that naturopaths and homeopaths have been irresponsible in providing prescriptions, turning the process into a money-making scam.

Arizona’s Department of Health Services recently reported that doctors issued 77,639 medical marijuana certifications for patients in 2015. Naturopathic doctors issued more than 87% of those certifications, while 77% of the recommendations were for chronic pain. The next highest category was cancer at 2.6%.

Nearly 88,000 Arizonans have medical marijuana certifications.