AZ Medical Marijuana Program Failed To Inspect Infusion Kitchens, “Put Public At Risk”

Department rejects recommendation for unannounced inspections of infusion kitchens

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The Arizona Auditor General has found that the Arizona Department of Health Services “did not timely, consistently, or adequately perform several medical marijuana regulatory activities and misallocated some Medical Marijuana Fund monies.”

Among the Auditor General’s findings was the “failure” of the Department to regularly inspect infusion kitchens,” which “places qualifying patients at risk.” According to the report, infusion kitchens not inspected as food establishments despite the fact that the Department licenses the infusion kitchens as food establishments.

“Although Arizona’s food safety regulations require ongoing food safety inspections for food establishments, the Department reported that it does not inspect infusion kitchens for ongoing food safety compliance because facilities typically close infusion kitchens on the dates when the Department has announced that it will conduct a medical marijuana inspection.”

The Auditor General’s report argues that the closures shouldn’t interfere with inspections because “food establishments can be inspected for compliance with various food safety requirements, even if food is not being prepared at the time of inspection, including handwashing, coolers or freezers, food preparation sinks, and the temperature of any food or ingredients in the kitchen.”

The Auditor General advised the Department should conduct unannounced food safety inspections of infusion kitchens “on an ongoing basis similar to its inspection practices for other licensed food establishments in the State.”

While the Department accepted most of the Auditor General’s findings, it rejected the notion of unannounced visits. “While the Department can appreciate the reasoning and recommendation of the Auditor General,” the Department responded, “the Department and legal counsel do not believe the statutory authority exists to conduct unannounced visits on food establishments located within a medical marijuana dispensaries.”

The Department concluded as to the inspection recommendation: “The finding of the Auditor General is not agreed to and will not be implemented.”

Auditors also found that the Department misallocated some Medical Marijuana Fund monies paid the salaries of employees that had nothing to do with the program. According to auditors, their “review of fiscal year 2018 Fund expenditures identified some costs that were not proportionally allocated relative to the benefit the Program received. For example, we identified 2 employees with estimated salaries totaling approximately $131,000 that were
fully paid by the Fund in fiscal year 2018; however, these 2 employees worked on other programs or responsibilities that were not related to the Program for approximately 15 and 5 percent of their time, respectively.”

Auditors also reviewed “a judgmental sample of 65 of the 7,177 fiscal year 2018 Fund expenditure transactions, totaling approximately $2.6 million. For 30 of these 65 transactions, totaling approximately $962,000, the Fund paid the full cost of the transaction, but other Department programs also benefited from the expenditures. Overall, the Department did not have documentation supporting how the allocation amounts were determined. We found that the Department had not developed written policies and procedures regarding the use of Fund monies that could assist in determining whether an expenditure is allowable and whether the expenditure should be allocated to the Fund.”

The Department also failed to revoke medical marijuana cards when users violated the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Violations include “diverting marijuana to someone not authorized to possess it, or being convicted of an excluded felony offense, such as a violent crime.”

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The Auditor General’s “review of 10 cards the Department revoked in fiscal year 2018 found that it took between 21 and 243 working days to revoke them because it did not complete some of the revocation process steps in a timely manner. For example, it took between 1 and 19 working days to request applicable documents describing a cardholder’s crime for 4 of the 10 cards reviewed, but took 39 and 42 working days, respectively, for 2 other cards.”

Auditors found that the Department “lacked policies and procedures to help ensure timely revocations.” Auditors recommended that the Department “develop and implement policies and procedures for revoking cards, including developing and tracking internal steps and associated time frames for revocation process steps.”

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3 Comments

  1. 200,000 patients need to consume an ounce a week for edibles and other renderings. The state needs more addicts for I-11 underfunded pensions and hire for retired police counseling education whom ever submits a bill to the director get inline now this will insure a viable and steady underground supply

  2. Where is the Tax money from all the sales of POT? Colorado State taxes and the entire state has NEW roads, schools, hospitals, etc… Why doesn’t the State of Arizona?

  3. You health nuts:
    Pot is Not GMO free
    It is a G.M.O product

    Wonder whos letting them know inadvance when inspections are coming ? Have to also Wonder
    How much is being sold to minors
    Whos cking the paper work ?
    Shut them down if they refuse to comply with Az Laws
    Wish Az approved Pot for medical reasons only
    We are becoming another Calif

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