Medical marijuana shop opens in Arizona

Dec. 7, 2012 at 3:56 PM
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GLENDALE, Ariz., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Arizona's first medical marijuana dispensary is open for business, two years after voters approved an initiative to legalize the drug for certain patients.

With touches of elegance and considerable security, Arizona Organix opened its doors Thursday in Glendale, Ariz., offering polished floors, artwork on the walls, bulletproof windows and retail transaction stations similar to those of bank tellers, The Arizona Republic reported Friday.

Passersby have mistaken the business for an art gallery, one owner said, but behind a secure steel door, qualified patients can purchase one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana for $55-$60, tax included.

"We didn't want it to feel like a medical-marijuana dispensary. We came up with a model of what we wanted, a high-end experience with a lot of security," said Ben Myer, 32, a part owner of the business, with his father and a friend.

Voters approved the Arizona medical marijuana measure in 2010, making the drug available to people with certain debilitating medical conditions that include chronic pain, cancer and muscle spasms. Eligible patients, who number more than 33,000 in Arizona, must obtain a doctor's recommendation and register with the state's Department of Health Services to obtain identification cards. Patients are permitted to purchase 2 1/2 ounces per two weeks, the newspaper said.

A Maricopa County, Ariz., Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday the law doesn't conflict with existing federal drug laws, clearing the way for dispensaries to open without fear of state prosecution. However, Myer said his business cannot accept credit cards because some banks regard the transactions for marijuana illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.

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