Arizona Marijuana AZDHS MMJ Card

Why are you putting up this information about Arizona Medical Marijuana AZDHS MMJ Card progam? 

Recently I was speaking with the AZDHS MMJ Card program regarding food recalls and what protection they were giving MMJ Patients.

When a dispensary kitchen, Flourish, had their voluntary food recall, I checked the AZDHS site and the Coconino County Health Department social media feed for the recall.

To my surprise, it was not listed on either feed or website.

If you have worked in the food industry, you know the kind of mandatory regulations required.

When you go through food handler training for the State of Arizona you are taught a variety of things  from temperatures for food kept in the refrigerator/freezer and warming table,  how often you clean the grease trap or replace the oil in the deep fryer.  How to properly set up your dish washing station,  to more common sense stuff like “have you washed your hands?” and pulling your hair back.

You also learn about recalls and how they are done and where they disseminate that information.  Well, not with Arizona Dispensaries.  They don’t go by the same rules but, I will save that for another blog post.

After learning that they were not giving us any type of protection,  I wanted to know what they were spending our money on. Money collected from us. Money collected from our card fees, dispensary agent cards, dispensary application fees, dispensary fees and all the other monies collected.


AZDHS MMJ Card Revenues 2015   

Registry Card Application Fees $10,974,685

Dispensary Application Fees $1,394,220

Total Revenues $12,368,905*

*Based on 2015 Annual Report Put out by AZDHS and University of Arizona

Thank you Department of Health Services and their Open Book policy.

As a result I was able to get all the information I needed, well all they want to put out there, to come up with this info graphic on how the AZDHS MMJ Card program is spending your money.

Always Remember

This is your money, the money collected by the AZDHS MMJ Card Program is supposed to be spent on MMJ programs and expenses.

You would think you would see a lot of money put towards education and information especially to the AZDHS staff and other out sourced vendors providing this for the MMJ program.

Maybe a testing program for clean medicine or how about a training program for Bud Tenders that dispense the medication.

Break of the AZDHS MMJ Card Expenses

Lets look at what I found…..

Only for 6 Months?

First let me tell you, this is only for 6 MONTHS.  I pulled the most current expenses and broke them up by the department or account department they put that expense towards.

Brief Accounting Summary

When doing bookkeeping, you need to assign a name and an amount to pay expenses to an assigned account.

For example when they pay normal employees at the AZDHS MMJ, they put that in the accounting section of Salary.

They also break it up into Employment Expenses, Operating Expenditures, Inter-Governmental Agreements, and Capital Equipment Expenditures.

Let me help you better understand this before we start.   Employment Expenses can only be expenses from what they pay for their employment, ie: tax for employees, retirement, leave pay, sick pay… and a lot of other expenses.

When they have other expenses to move, it is in an account called Non Employment Expenses.  This is where they put their temporary  agency help, the money they pay to the U of A, advertising and all other non employment expenses.

Lets Begin 

Going to the AZDHS website where you are about to access their Open Books system.  I pulled data in the form of a PDF that was a collection of information on all accounting from the date of 7/1/16 – 1/18/17 in the Medical Marijuana Department.

Let me start by saying that the AZDHS MMJ Card Program has had $5.5 million dollars in expenses in 6 MONTHS.

AZDHS Employment Expenses

As I had explained recently, Employment is a seperate category where they put expenses that are employment related.  Salary, FICA, Social Security, Vacation, Leave Pay, Retirement, Travel Expenses, Other Employee Related Expense and one call InDirect Transfer.

$1,600,000.00 In Employment Expenses

$1,836,222.00 In Total Employment Expenses for 2015*

The AZDHS MMJ Card program has spent almost as much money in 6 months as they had all of 2015.

The University of Arizona has not put out the Annual Report for the Medical Marijuana Program for 2016.

Why do you think it almost has double in the last 2 years?  More staff?

Breakdown of Employment 

Well lets look at how it got broken down, pulled from their own records.

$668,000.00 Salary

That was the total salary amount for 6 months for the employees at the MMJ Department of the AZDHS.

If they were paid about $40,000.00 a piece for just the salaries, that would cover 30 employees.

Does the AZDHS MMJ Card program have 30 Employees?

$145,000.00 Employee Insurance 

$ 54,000.00 Leave Compensation 

$ 37,650.00 Holiday Leave Taken  

$33,500.00 Sick Leave Taken  

$21,400.00 Travel in State

I have to stop on this one and ask, how is this possible?  Where are they staying, how often are they going and what are they doing while they are there?

$89,900.00 Retirement  

$12,900.00 Workers Comp 

$82,400.00 Risk Management

$59,000.00 FICA  

$63,690.00 Fingerprint & Background Checks


$232,000.00 Indirect Cost Transfer 

Well what is this, Indirect Cost Transfer is listed as the account but a N/A is put on the check name or kept out of the check names.

Over $200,000 has been moved, or paid to another department for what?

Do you know what Indirect Cost Transfer is?  I do not but, would like to know.

Operating Expenditures, Inter-Governmental Agreements, and Capital Equipment Expenditures

Operating Expenditures AZDHS MMJ Card Program

$150,000.00  Temporary Agencies 

We see salary of over 1.6 million for the same period, but an added roughly $150,000.00 was used for Temporary Employment help.

$1,600,000.00  University of Arizona

Support the following programs

  • U of A EMS Training and Collaboration
  • U of A First Responder Education
  • Research and Evaluation
  • Medical Marijuana Poison Control

U of A EMS training and collaboration is to train EMS reposnoders on how to handle overdoes or marijuana related incidents.

How many have there been?

U of A First Responders Education is also part of the funding.  I have not heard of that many First Responder issues with cannabis?  How many responses to cannabis issues have there been?

Last time I checked Cannabis has caused ZERO deaths.

Research and Evaluation  For what? and who at U of A is doing this?  Just a suggestion from a guy in the business.  Why dont you get some people that are in the business to help you with this Research and Evaluation.

Or is this for the report that they reproduce each month, showing the number of patients and the illnesses they suffer from.

Medical Marijuana Poison Control why would we need this and how many people have called this line?   I have never heard of anyone wanting to call poison control when they are medicated.

Other AZDHS MMJ Card Expenses

$746,890.00 Guidesoft LLC (known as knowledge services now)

This company is put in the Information Technology Services accounting department of the balance sheet.   What do they do?  When I look them up them up online they were shown as an employment agency, for labor.

$746,890.00 in the last 6 months for what Information Technology Services?

$13,326.00 Verizon

Paying Verizon for Information Technology Services

$149,160.00 Oracle

Gets paid amount $150,000.00  for software support and maintenance

$150,345.00 Elliot D Pollack

List in the accounting side of the balance sheet under Research and Survey Services. 

$49,835.00 Owens Harkey

AZDHS does a lot of advertising for the MMJ program right? Have you seen any?

$92,700.00 TerraSystems Southwest

They are being paid for Cellular Services

Does that mean their Cell Phone Bill is almost $100,000.00 for 6 months?

$34,988.00 USPS

Listed under postage and handling expenses

I can understand that they do send out a lot of paper to us, with their Monthly Newsletter

$499,900.00 Sherman & Howard

You know lawyers love making money, that’s who Sherman and Howard are and they are listed under legal services

Expenses Paid to other City/County/State Agencies

Looks like we paid out the City of Tucson $98,564.00 for some government agreement, and the City of Phoenix another $92,700.00 for the same thing.  AZ Medical Marijuana AMMA Fidelity, which if I am correct, Fidelity is an insurance company

Paid Coconino County $14,685.00 under AZ Medical Marijuana – Edibles

Listed as AZ Medical Marijuana – Edibles when they listed in accounting

Pima County for $37,500.00 under AZ Medical Marijuana Initiative Prop 203… For what?

Ending it off with misc expenses, I could not list all of them for another 915,294.00

Additionally – AZDHS paid a company called Beacon do to a report on them and find out how they could improve their government department dealing with Medical Marijuana.  Report was delivered in Jan 2016. (unknown cost)



Wow… 5.5 Million in 6 months.   We found out where some of that money is going.

Does it make sense to you?  I have spoke with several people in the cannabis industry, patients, dispensary agents, owners and they all are clear on one thing.  AZDHS does not know what they are doing with our money and the AZDHS MMJ program

Let me ask you something.   Is this acceptable use of your money?

What would you change about the AZDHS and how they spend your money?

AZDHS MMJ Card Expenses InfoGraphic

For all the visual people out there.  Here is the infographic on where is the money going.

azdhs mmj

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