Tucson's first medical marijuana dispensary has received state approval to open. Now the owner has to decide on a date.
"Right now we haven't decided when we will open up," said Rouben Beglarian. "We're going to have a couple meetings with staff members and see when they feel comfortable."
Beglarian's dispensary, Green Medicine, 112 S. Kolb Road at Broadway, in the Gaslight Plaza Shopping Center, passed inspection Tuesday. He received an email Wednesday from the Arizona Department of Health Services confirming he is allowed to open for business. He expects to start selling before the end of the year.
Statewide, 98 dispensary certificates have been issued. Two dispensaries - Green Medicine and one in Phoenix - have been given approval to open by the state health department; four others, including one in the Tucson area, will be inspected in the next few weeks, said Harmony Duport, who heads the state Department of Health Services' inspections office and oversees the dispensary program.
Once doors open, the clock will start running down on patients living within within 25 miles of Green Medicine. Per state law, once a dispensary opens, a medical-marijuana cardholder who grows his own product must cease cultivation once his patient card expires, Duport said. The cards have to be renewed annually.
Caregivers, who are licensed to grow for others, can continue to cultivate medical marijuana within the 25-mile dispensary radius provided their patients live outside the radius. If patients or caregivers have leftover product or plants once they can no longer grow marijuana, they can donate the inventory to a dispensary or to other patients who are still allowed to grow their own, Duport said.
Arizona voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in 2010. It required the Department of Health Services to create a medical-marijuana program. Qualifying patients began applying for identification cards on April 14, 2011.
Under the law, the state can authorize up to 126 dispensaries.
Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4191