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6/12/2013 8:52:00 AM
Chino has county's first medical marijuana dispensary
Review/Matt SantosOrganica Patient Group opened Yavapai County’s first medical marijuana dispensary on May 20 in Chino Valley.
Review/Matt Santos

Organica Patient Group opened Yavapai County’s first medical marijuana dispensary on May 20 in Chino Valley.
Matt Santos
Reporter

With the opening of the Organica Patient Group medical marijuana dispensary on May 20, Chino Valley became home to Yavapai County's first dispensary.

RJ Alarcon, Dispensary Agent and co-owner of OPG, said that in spite of the controversial medical marijuana laws, the opening has been well received in the community.

"Overall it's been pretty positive," said Alarcon. "People like quality meds and from a legal standpoint this is the best way to acquire medical cannabis in the state."

Alarcon said there has been some negative feedback, but that has come from personal growers and caregivers in the area who soon will be unable to grow their own medical marijuana.

Current legislation prohibits personal cultivation within 25 miles of any legal distribution center, but Alarcon said that any negative feedback from growers or caregivers takes a back seat to OPG's goal to provide the best possible medical marijuana in a safe environment.

"When it comes to the patient being able to get and ingest something that is superior for their health, it's been really positive," said Alarcon. "Other than that, everything else is irrelevant. Patient care first. Understanding what they need is the most important thing."

Co-owner and fellow dispensary agent Sid Chalasani said the Department of Health Services inspection process leading up to the opening went off as planned, mainly because of good planning on the part of OPG.

"The DHS has certain security requirements that we have to meet, and we made sure we exceeded their requirements," said Chalasani. "Overall it went exactly as planned. We have a state-of-the-art security system and they were very happy with it."

On the local front, Alarcon said that Chino Valley representatives worked well with OPG.

"Just like any other business has to go through, they were very thorough, helpful, and informative," said Alarcon. "There was no more, no less, than any other shop. It just happens that we're carrying a medical product."

Town Manager Robert Smith said that's the process the town followed leading up to the opening of OPG.

Smith said the town doesn't have specific code for medical marijuana dispensaries, as these businesses are governed by the state.

"The dispensary will be treated as we would a pharmacy," said Smith. "It's a retail, commercial establishment. When it comes to the dispensary, the state is in control of a lot of their operational requirements."

Chino Valley Police Chief Chuck Wynn said that under current state law, the opening of OPG soon will limit anyone currently allowed to grow their own medical marijuana from doing so within town limits.

"The caregivers and patients can grow their own until their cards expire," said Wynn. "They are required to renew their medical marijuana cards every year, and once a dispensary opens up, no one will be able to grow their own within a 25 mile radius. Once this operation has been opened for a year, that should have taken care of anyone growing their own, requiring them to go to a dispensary to obtain their product."

Wynn warns patients to not be confused by the legalization of medical marijuana, reminding patients that the same laws covering the use of other medications and substances still apply to medical marijuana, even under a doctor's recommendation.

"People need to remember that just because the state law says they are allowed to use marijuana, they still need to be aware they can't operate a vehicle under the influence," said Wynn. "Just like a prescribed pain killer, a medical marijuana recommendation, or alcohol. It may be currently legal to obtain, but the minute it impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle it becomes an illegal activity."

OPG is located at 856 S Highway 89, next to Aroma Pizza. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information visit www.northernazmeds.com or call 928-636-5566.




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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: @Megan Rumley helper

that 25 mile rule is a state thing, currently under review- most dispensaries (this one included) offer a delivery service I think

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Article comment by: Megan Rumley

what about the patients that are stuck at home and cannot get to town to get their meds. what if no one has a caregiver to help them out??? Who came up with the 25mile no grow zone anyways? You are more likely to get asked if you are on marijuana than if you are on prescription meds. I just think the war on "pot" is a waste of time and money when the majority of people are addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription pills.



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