Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, Feb. 19

Editorial: Not everything works for everyone, like digital pot cards

Let’s forget for a second about whether people should have access to marijuana for medical purposes or whether the drug should be legalized.

What the Arizona Department of Health Services is doing – moving on Dec. 1 to digital-only medical marijuana cards – is wrong.

The state is going to stop issuing actual or paper pot cards to those who are authorized to buy the drug, according to Capitol Media Services. Instead, new and renewed cards will be emailed to them. The change to a digital card, which can be downloaded to a smart phone, for display to a shop owner, or printed, requires that all approved users have either a smart phone or access to a computer and printer.

Not all do.

Statewide figures show that Arizona has more than 210,000 patients who have medical conditions for which a doctor has recommended medical marijuana. Of those more than 13,000 are at least 71 years old and more than 2,000 are older than 81. One Prescott-area shop’s program director says at least 60% of its customers are 60 or older.

The hang-up? For years some in the Legislature have been wanting to move legal notices from printed newspapers to online only.

One of the reasons this has failed is because of the state’s population who often do not have or choose not to have access the internet; they are frequently but not exclusively older than 60.

It is the same problem.

The government cannot require everyone to have a smart phone; in fact, some people cannot afford that luxury and others either do not want it or simply do not understand the technology. This is why not all retailers will go to digital payments, such as when a customer pays for goods or services with the swipe of a smart phone.

Certainly, there are other reasons as well, but for state officials to say as justification the medical marijuana program already requires an online application, they are assuming too much.

The move is part of legislative action from this past session. Other changes to the 2010 voter-approved medical marijuana laws include: allowing people with certain medical conditions to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks; giving priority to licensing dispensaries in areas that do not have an outlet within 25 miles; mandating testing of marijuana cultivated for medical use; and requiring the laboratories that do that work to be certified by the state; among other changes.

Some things may sound good in committee, during the debate, even over coffee. Sometimes enacting all of them – in the real world – is not always feasible, wise or possible.

This is another of those instances. Delay enacting this mistake and go back to the drawing board.

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