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Updated Aug 7, 2012 - 9:14 am

Decision day arrives for medical-pot dispensaries

PHOENIX -- The future comes down to a powerball-style lottery.

The lottery to select 99 medical marijuana dispensaries across the state out of almost 500 applicants is planned for Tuesday morning. The lottery can be watched here.

"Ping-Pong balls and a hopper. So it's an interesting bit of theatre to go along with this," said attorney Ryan Hurley.

Hurley, of the Rose Law Group, represents almost two dozen applicants. It's unlikely that all of them will be selected as dispensaries.

"It's hard when you've worked for over a year and a half and sunk a lot of your time, money and effort into it and try to do things the right the way and hope that you're the one that gets selected."

Hurley doesn't believe a lottery using numbered balls was the best way to select medical-marijuana dispensaries.

"We thought a merit-based system would have been the best way to go. For whatever reason the Arizona Department of Health Services decided to proceed this way and we complied. It's going to be interesting to see who ends up with the selection."

Meanwhile Al Sobol with the Arizona Cannabis University, who was one of the strongest proponents of medical marijuana agrees with Hurley about the choice of selecting dispensaries and he sees a shaky future for the program overall.

"There's so many problems with the way applicants are being selected. There's favoritism. It's so bad, I predict the program is going to come to a crashing halt."

Part of the medical-marijuana law said people living within 25 miles of a dispensary will have to get the medical marijuana from the dispensary but Sobol said individuals can still grow their own inside of that boundary for the next few months.

"If a dispensary opens within 25 miles of where you live and you're currently growing your own you will be able to do that until your card expires next year.

"At that point the right to cultivate will be withdrawn and you will have to go to a dispensary."

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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