Every year at the state legislature a culture war breaks out between the ideologues on the right and the rest of the state over marijuana. People may want politics to have no place in pot, but that is not the reality of the ground truth. In Arizona, the GOP work in lockstep to derail cannabis liberties and the Dems, or one handful of Dems in particular, continue to introduce bills to enhance cannabis liberties.

You may have already seen our action alert on the horrendous HB2061 which would make pregnancy a disqualifying condition. Here is a quick run-down on the four bills designed to ruin marijuana in Arizona so far this year. Stay tuned, it is bound to be a bumpy ride.

Unlike most issues in officialdom, the cannabis community has a chance of stopping these attacks. These bills are essentially attempting to amend ARS36-2081 the AMMA, Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (Prop 203), which is luckily harder to do than it sounds. Unlike ordinary bills, bills which would alter the language of a citizens’ initiative have to have a 75% majority in both houses of the legislature and then be signed by the governor. Governor Ducey may love nothing more than to drive a pen-stroke through the heart of the Arizona medical marijuana community, but it will only take 16 votes of the House’s 23 Dems to block any bill and only 8 of the 13 senators, or in all reality 16 and 8 of any sensible people of either party to not vote for these particularly bad bills:

HCR 2019 Introduced by Representatives Lawrence (LD23), Thorpe (LD6): Boyer (LD20), Mitchell (LD13). Title: “Medical Marijuana” Lawrence, a former shock jock talk-show host on KTAX, now of Representative of LD23, is gleeful about his attempt to rewrite state medical law. If enacted this bill would prohibit naturopaths and homeopaths from being able certify patients for medical cards. A significant number of the 88,000 people currently certified get their paperwork done through certification clinics that frequently employee naturopaths who are cheaper to hire than MDs. This bill undoes that by cutting the key passage from 36-2801 definitions section, paragraph 12 that includes naturopaths. It goes onto insert language in 36-2804.06 to shortens mmj cards from one year to six months. And in 36-2815, Revocation, paragraph C punishes those who provide cannabis to those under 18 with having their card permanently revoked and class 2 felony charges. This bill, an HCR, instead of an HB, that is a “house concurrent resolution” instead of a “house bill,” has the extra hurdle of having to go through the process listed above, and then would have to pass a citizen vote at the ballot.

Besides the low stakes for blockage, this bill also flies in the face of the intent of the original initiative and is not likely to get any traction. Like so many of the ethical issues implied by these bills, bill opponents can avoid taking a political stance and simply cites the bill’s unconstitutionality and the predictable expense of a lengthy costly and ultimately failed attempt to defend flawed legislation. In addition, it challenges state medical practice which treats naturopaths as on par, equals to MDs. Though the state naturopath examining board is staying silent on this, their membership would get riled to learn their licensure had been demoted. So far it has not been given a place on the calendar and not even assigned to committee.

Likelihood of passage: NO <25%

HB2061 Introduced by Representatives Townsend (LD16), Finchem (LD11), Allen J (LD15), Boyer (LD20), Brophy McGee LD28), Campbell (LD1), Lovas (LD22), Olson (LD25), Senators Barto (LD15), Farnsworth D LD16), Titled “Pregnancy Exclusion,” this bill would add pregnancy as a “disqualifying” condition for women seeking medical cards, no matter what their debilitating condition using the rationale that exposing the fetus, who has personhood, to cannabis without its consent is essentially child abuse and DCS is already pursuing women on such charges.  Babies are routinely taken at birth if the mother tests positive in the wrong hospital. “It is a horrific medical decision and terrible public health policy to insert a politician between a woman and her doctor,” notes Heather Manus of the Arizona Cannabis Nurses Association. Sharon Ravert from Peachtree NORML notes this would be the first time a “disqualifying condition” was added to a medical list and it would be a deadly precedent to allow. Statistics from the 2014 AZDHS Medical Marijuana report show that over ten thousand Arizona women of childbearing age have medical cards and could have their cards revoked if they should become pregnant. The potential number of Arizona women who could be blocked from applying for medical cards could number in the hundreds of thousands. Pregnancy, Labor and Cannabis have gone together in midwife lore going back millennia. In modern times, experts point to University of Massachusetts Dr. Melanie Dreher’s study from Jamaica which showed babies expose to cannabis prenatally had better health outcomes than those who had not had cannabis consuming mothers.

This bill has a higher potential for passage than HB2019 and has already gained more ground than any of the other bills on this list. It has been assigned to committee gone through 1st and 2nd reading and is scheduled for a hearing this Tuesday, January 19th(NORML will be there learn more) The Right believe it has tremendous optics and appears to play right into prevailing reefer madness about “drugs” and fetuses. In truth a woman’s natural endocannabinoids surge during her pregnancy and reach their highest peak at childbirth. While healthy women may be able to naturally accomplish this increased production of endocannabinoids, women who were already patients were already in need of increased cannabinoid levels and likely suffer from endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome and will have their health care regimen threatened to leave off of their usual cannabinoid supplement. Patients who will have to resort to pharmaceutical epilepsy medications will be exposing their fetuses to truly dangerous narcotics and the mother’s seizures.

Likelihood of passing: POSSIBLE, NOT VERY PROBABLE >35%

HB2404 Introduced by Representatives Leach (LD11), Thorpe (LD6), Finchem LD11), Kern (LD20), Livingston (LD22), Petersen (LD12) Titled: “Medical marijuana card fees prohibited.” The meanest bill in the bunch, this bill inserts a prohibition in 36-2803 A5e of the discount for patients on federal food stamps. Current those on food stamps only pay the state $75 in card fees instead of the usual $150. While some might counter that patients don’t need to be spending their cash on cannabis while poor, thus the rationale of the bill; people who are poor often are on Medicare or Medicaid as well and have many of their health costs paid already except for their cannabis. In addition to the poor, the dispensary and the certification industries will be hurt by this one if it gets legs.

Again the high standards of overturning language in a Voter Protection Act-protected initiative give the public some protection from this one going all the way to the guv’. There a several reasons to think it is less than likely to make. One: it has not been assigned to committees yet. Two: it is the opposite of furthering the intention of the original initiative by restricting access to medical cannabis for ill people. Three: the optics on this one can be made to make the AZ GOP leadership look heartless and malicious to the healthcare needs of the poor. Oh wait, they are.

Likelihood of passing: POSSIBLE, NOT PROBABLE >40%

HB2405 Introduced by Representatives Leach )LD11), Thorpe(LD6), Finchem (LD11), Kern (LD20), Livingston (LD22). Title: “medical marijuana cultivation facilities.” This one is the greatest threat to the medical marijuana industry as a whole with long reaching consequences for the future of all legal marijuana cultivation in Arizona if passed. Impressively it accomplishes this feat by merely adding 9 words to the description of where marijuana can be cultivated commercially. Only 5 of which have teeth. The key 5 are “Roofed” & “Has a Hardened Covering.” “Roofed” means no outdoor grow and “has a hardened covering” is ambiguous enough to mean a variety of things including a prohibition on hoop houses, plastic sheathing such as Mylar or Visqueen and if it is all about the “security” of the building from would-be burglars, are glass or plastic panels hardened enough to prevent entry? Aggressive law enforcement officers might say no.

Again the standard of proof to challenge that this furthers the intent of the law is pretty darn low. Also with medical marijuana accounting for over 19 tons of sales as part of the health regimen of almost 100,000 patients in the state and legal marijuana for adult use on the way about to explode the market, the possibility of legally sustaining a statewide usage on indoor alone is logistically an impossibility. Trust that the industry will rise to find its backbone to fight this one.

Likelihood of passing: POSSIBLE, NOT LIKELY <40%

Once again, these bills can be derailed with sufficient public outcry. They require changes to the Prop 203 Medical Marijuana Act and that will require 3/4s vote from both houses of the state legislature. Citizen pushback can stop them in their tracks.

Contact your legislator today: call, email, Facebook, Twitter. Sign up to testify on a bill and schedule a meeting with your legislator. Make them explain themselves. Visit the AZ State Legislature website to learn more about the process. Don’t know what legislature district you live in? Check Here.


If you should decide to schedule a meeting with your legislators, Arizona NORML would be happy to assist you in preparing for and attending the meeting. Contact 928-234-5633 for further details.


House Roster

Name  District  Party Email Room Phone (602) Fax (602)
Karen Fann 1 R Send Email 316 926-5874 417-3001
Noel W. Campbell 1 R Send Email 345 926-3124 417-3287
J. Christopher Ackerley 2 R Send Email 127 926-3077 417-3277
Rosanna Gabaldón 2 D Send Email 117 926-3424 417-3129
Sally Ann Gonzales 3 D Send Email 331 926-3278 417-3127
Macario Saldate 3 D Send Email 332 926-4171 417-3162
Lisa A. Otondo 4 D Send Email 123 926-3002 417-3124
Charlene R. Fernandez 4 D Send Email 126 926-3098 417-3281
Sonny Borrelli 5 R Send Email 113 926-5051 417-3153
Regina Cobb 5 R Send Email 335 926-3126 417-3289
Brenda Barton 6 R Send Email 114 926-4129 417-3010
Bob Thorpe 6 R Send Email 130 926-5219 417-3118
Jennifer D. Benally 7 D Send Email 121 926-3079 417-3278
Albert Hale 7 D Send Email 323 926-4323 417-3160
Thomas “T.J.” Shope 8 R Send Email 112 926-3012 417-3123
Franklin M. Pratt 8 R Send Email 226 926-5761 417-3023
Randall Friese 9 D Send Email 325 926-3138 417-3272
Bruce Wheeler
Assistant Minority Leader
10 D Send Email 321 926-3300 417-3028
Stefanie Mach 10 D Send Email 329 926-3398 417-3126
Mark Finchem 11 R Send Email 337 926-3122 417-3286
Vince Leach 11 R Send Email 342 926-3106 417-3284
Edwin W. Farnsworth 12 R Send Email 224 926-5735 417-3122
Warren H. Petersen 12 R Send Email 312 926-4136 417-3222
Steve Montenegro
Majority Leader
13 R Send Email 208 926-5955 417-3168
Darin Mitchell 13 R Send Email 313 926-5894 417-3012
David M. Gowan Sr.
Speaker of the House
14 R Send Email 223 926-3312 417-3130
David W. Stevens 14 R Send Email 205 926-4321 417-3146
John M. Allen 15 R Send Email 131 926-4916 417-3150
Heather Carter 15 R Send Email 303 926-5503 417-3107
Doug Coleman 16 R Send Email 306 926-3160 417-3151
Kelly Townsend 16 R Send Email 302 926-4467 417-3018
Javan D. “J.D.” Mesnard 17 R Send Email 308 926-4481 417-3152
Jeff Weninger 17 R Send Email 338 926-3092 417-3279
Jill Norgaard 18 R Send Email 128 926-3140 417-3265
Bob Robson
Speaker Pro Tempore
18 R Send Email 222 926-5549 417-3157
Mark A. Cardenas 19 D Send Email 122 926-3014 417-3048
Diego Espinoza 19 D Send Email 118 926-3134 417-3273
Anthony Kern 20 R Send Email 341 926-3102 417-3282
Paul Boyer 20 R Send Email 129 926-4173 417-3153
Tony Rivero 21 R Send Email 344 926-3104 417-3283
Rick Gray 21 R Send Email 224 926-5993 417-3225
David Livingston
Majority Whip
22 R Send Email 207 926-4178 417-3154
Phil Lovas 22 R Send Email 110 926-3297 417-3004
Michelle B. Ugenti-Rita 23 R Send Email 111 926-4480 417-3155
Jay Lawrence 23 R Send Email 339 926-3095 417-3280
Ken Clark 24 D Send Email 115 926-3108 417-3285
Lela Alston 24 D Send Email 330 926-5829 417-3115
Justin Olson 25 R Send Email 204 926-5288 417-3161
Russell “Rusty” Bowers 25 R Send Email 309 926-3128 417-3290
Celeste Plumlee 26 D Send Email 119 926-4334 417-3009
Juan Jose Mendez 26 D Send Email 120 926-4124 417-3017
Reginald Bolding Jr. 27 D Send Email 116 926-3132 417-3274
Rebecca Rios
Minority Whip
27 D Send Email 322 926-3073 417-3288
Kate Brophy McGee 28 R Send Email 304 926-4486 417-3170
Eric Meyer
Minority Leader
28 D Send Email 320 926-3037 417-3111
Richard C. Andrade 29 D Send Email 125 926-3130 417-3292
Ceci Velasquez 29 D Send Email 124 926-3144 417-3245
Debbie McCune Davis 30 D Send Email 333 926-4485 417-3014
Jonathan R. Larkin 30 D Send Email 318 926-5058 417-3015


Senate Roster

Name  District  Party Email Room Phone (602) Fax (602)
Steve Pierce 1 R Send Email 301 926-5584 417-3101
Andrea Dalessandro 2 D Send Email 312 926-5342 417-3169
Olivia Cajero Bedford 3 D Send Email 314 926-5835 417-3262
Lynne Pancrazi 4 D Send Email 308 926-3004 417-3179
Kelli Ward 5 R Resigned on 12/15/2015
Susan Donahue 5 R Send Email 304 926-4138 417-3067
Sylvia Allen 
President Pro Tempore
6 R Send Email 303 926-5409 417-3105
Carlyle Begay 7 R Send Email 315 926-5862 417-3099
Barbara McGuire 8 D Send Email 314 926-5836 417-3131
Steve Farley 
Assistant Minority Leader
9 D Send Email 213 926-3022 417-3128
David Bradley 10 D Send Email 315 926-5262 926-3429
Steve Smith 11 R Send Email 303 926-5685 417-3167
Andy Biggs 
12 R Send Email 205 926-4371 417-3248
Don Shooter 13 R Send Email 200 926-4139 417-3024
Gail Griffin 
Majority Whip
14 R Send Email 212 926-5895 417-3025
Nancy Barto 15 R Send Email 307 926-5766 417-3261
David C. Farnsworth 16 R Send Email 304 926-3020 417-3119
Steve Yarbrough 
Majority Leader
17 R Send Email 212 926-5863 417-3121
Jeff Dial 18 R Send Email 304 926-5550 417-3120
Lupe Contreras 
Minority Whip
19 D Send Email 313 926-5284 417-3106
Kimberly Yee 20 R Send Email 300 926-3024 417-3110
Debbie Lesko 21 R Send Email 302 926-5413 417-3109
Judy Burges 22 R Send Email 302 926-5861 417-3104
John Kavanagh 23 R Send Email 303A 926-5170 417-3108
Katie Hobbs 
Minority Leader
24 D Send Email 213 926-5325 417-3149
Bob Worsley 25 R Send Email 310 926-5760 417-3091
Ed Ableser 26 D Resigned on 9/30/2015
Andrew C. Sherwood 26 D Send Email 305 926-3028 417-3038
Catherine Miranda 27 D Send Email 311 926-4893 417-3116
Adam Driggs 28 R Send Email 309 926-3016 417-3007
Martin Quezada 
Minority Whip
29 D Send Email 313 926-5911 417-3113
Robert Meza 30 D Send Email 311 926-3425 417-3114