With about five weeks left until Election Day, Arizona Department of Health Services is brainstorming ways to implement a medical-marijuana policy in case voters approve Proposition 203 , the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
The department has spoken out against Prop. 203. If the measure passes, the department will need to draft the administrative code for implementation and set up an electronic-verification system to keep track of records, including doctor recommendations, dispensary applications and cardholder registrations.
Finishing the two tasks in 120 days, as outlined in the proposition, will be a challenge to the health department, which has gone through recent budget and staff cuts.
The health department will need to figure out how to delegate the duties.
The Office of Vital Records most likely will be responsible for issuing medical-marijuana cards because it already has a record-keeping system that can handle high volumes of records, according to DHS Director Will Humble.
Legislative budget analysts estimated that 66,000 people would register for medical-marijuana cards by the 2012-13 fiscal year.
But Humble projected that if Prop. 203 passes, as many as 100,000 Arizonans could be registered for medical-marijuana cards by 2013.
The Office of Environmental Health would likely establish dispensary regulation.
By Michelle Ye Hee Lee