Last Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court in Saguaro Healing LLC v. State of Arizona held that the Arizona Department of Health Services (“AZDHS”) must issue at least one medical marijuana dispensary certificate in each county, in accordance with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”).
The Court’s opinion interpreted the AMMA’s language to require a minimum, not a maximum, number of medical marijuana dispensaries within the state and in each county. In doing so, the Court furthered one of the AMMA’s intended purposes—to ensure that patients throughout Arizona have access to a medical marijuana dispensary.
Beyond its direct effect, the Court’s opinion affirms AZDHS’s place relative to the AMMA: AZDHS cannot use rulemaking to circumvent Arizona’s medical marijuana statutes, and any agency interpretation in contravention with the AMMA’s mandates will be struck down.
Gammage & Burnham’s Cannabis Law team has extensive experience guiding our clients through the complex and evolving legal and regulatory landscape of Arizona’s cannabis industry. The full impact of the Court’s opinion remains to be seen, but it signals the Court’s willingness to limit AZDHS’s discretion in this field, a welcome development for both patients and industry professionals.
If you have any questions about this article or the cannabis industry generally, please contact Lindsay Schube at 602-256-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org.