A late session maneuver at the state Capitol sent activists and business leaders ballistic, when Sen David Gowan filed a “striker bill” designed to target listing and menu service websites that help market AZ MMJ products.
“Strikers” or “strike everything bills” remove or strike out all the language of an existing bill, especially ones that have already passed in their initial committee and chamber votes, then paste in fresh language, often on an unrelated topic. For example this bill, SB 1156, had originally been a totally unrelated technical correction to water treatment legislation, but now targets menu list services like Leafly and Weedmaps.
Aiming to curb the proliferation of certain types of medical marijuana delivery services that operate in the “gray market,” SB1156 focuses on the websites where delivery services advertise, namely Weedmaps and the homegrown cannabis info site, AZMarijuana.com.
The bill’s exact language reads:
A LISTING OR MENU SERVICE THAT DOES NOT DISPLAY A NONPROFIT MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY’S REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER ISSUED PURSUANT TO SECTION 36-2804 WITH THE NONPROFIT MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY’S OR MEDICAL MARIJUANA DELIVERY SERVICE’S PRODUCT LINES IS GUILTY OF A CLASS 6 FELONY –SB1156
While Leafly does not list AZ delivery services in its search feature, it could still be attacked if the bill passes. Neither Weedmaps nor Leafly display dispensary registration numbers on any of their pages for dispensaries. According to Dan Kingston from AZmarijuana.com, the problem is even bigger than that.
“Arizona Senate Bill 1156 is attempting to make publishing certain marijuana-related content illegal in Arizona, and it completely disregards the fact that the First Amendment in the Constitution of the United States allows publishers the right to freely publish content.”
Kingston explained, “Services such as AZMarijuana.com, Google Maps, Bing Maps and others—all of which display Arizona medical marijuana dispensaries—would be deemed guilty of a Class 6 Felony for each listing that does not provide a dispensary’s registration certificate number.” Though the bill includes dispensaries, insiders say the language is designed to shut down delivery services. Why the bill targets websites instead of the delivery services remains a question.
Earlier this session Gowan filed two high profile MMJ reform bills, SB 1286 on rural dispensaries and the embattled testing bill, SB1494. SB1156 also includes language severely limiting the transfer of dispensary licenses. The bill is currently being held for discussion, by House Appropriations chair, Rep Regina Cobb.