Bingo Games Award Medical Marijuana Permits in Arizona

The game of bingo has been used for many purposes. In the late 19th century bingo was used in Germany to teach several school subjects and today bingo is used for similar purposes around the world. Charities and churches account for most of the bingo games in the United States and most fraternal and charitable organizations have regular ‘bingo nights.’ In the UK bingo is more of a commercial affair and there are massive bingo halls in every large city. One internet bingo operator had US president Obama’s stepmother host a series of charitable bingo games.

In Arizona the state government has found a highly original and strange way to use bingo. Two years ago Arizona voters approved a medical marijuana law that allows the compassionate use of the plant to treat a variety of medical conditions. On Tuesday, August 7th the Arizona Department of Health Services held a bingo style lottery to award 69 dispensary licenses. 437 people applied for one of the 69 registration certificates that will allow them to open shop. The process was set up and organized on a district by district basis. The registration certificates are the first step in being awarded a permit. The Arizona Department of Health Services decided to award registration certificates using a lottery style game complete with numbered bingo balls.

For almost two years state officials had been waffling and dragging their feet implementing the new law. Although the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) was passed in 2010 it still faces opposition by Republican governor Jan Brewer. Brewer told reporters that “I took it to court and I was ruled against, (with a judge) saying that I had to implement the law. So we moved forward under the direction of the court.” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said that the dispensary permitting portion of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act cannot go into effect because it is pre-empted by federal laws. Horne also said that if the federal Controlled Substances Act supersedes the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, no more dispensary permits will be issued.

Unfortunately for those suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy and other medical conditions that benefit from the moderate use of cannabis the law is still in limbo. Even though the lottery is finished dispensary owners face local opposition. For those suffering from debilitating medical conditions the opening of the dispensaries cannot come soon enough.