State Capitol News
10:48 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Marijuana Research Bill Going Up in Smoke?

A House-approved bill that would support medical marijuana research in Arizona may be going up in smoke. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

State Sen. Kimberly Yee is resisting a bill that would funnel funds to marijuana research.
Credit tucsonsentinel.com


The measure crafted by Rep. Ethan Orr would allow money collected in fees from medical marijuana users and dispensaries to finance things like research by University of Arizona physician Sue Sisley. She wants to see if the drug can help returning soldiers with PTSD. It was approved by the House with just five votes opposed. But Sen. Kimberly Yee won’t even give it a hearing, saying that’s not the role of the state. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk sides with Yee, saying any money in the fund should be used to discourage illegal marijuana use.

“My focus is on the fact that our kids are using marijuana at a much higher rate. And it's increasing,” Polk said.

Polk said the 2010 voter-approved medical marijuana law only complicates the problem because it sends a mixed message about the drug. Yee’s refusal to hear the measure has left Orr angry and frustrated.

“I have been leaving her messages repeatedly. The last one I left yesterday where I said I just want good policy. I want to work with you. Please hear the bill. This should not be an ego battle. This should be a way to get good policy to the governor’s desk,” Orr said.

And, Orr said his measure — if Yee would hear it — would allow some of the funds to be used to discourage illegal drug use, at least among those younger than 24.