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Medical pot dispensary gets AZ's first approval to open

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GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

A Glendale business has made history, becoming the first medical marijuana dispensary approved to operate in the state of Arizona.

Inspectors with the state's Department of Health Services spent more than four hours at Arizona Organix Thursday, going through a nine-page checklist of criteria dispensaries must meet.

DHS Director Will Humble posted the following on his blog:

"Our team just returned from a field inspection for a dispensary applicant in Glendale. There were no major deficiencies, and we awarded the dispensary an "approval to operate" late this afternoon. This is the first dispensary approval to operate we've issued in the State."

By law, the state is not allowed to name the dispensary.

But, the owner of Arizona Organix confirmed to CBS 5 News his dispensary passed the inspection.

"We're grateful and excited to be where we're at," said Ben Myer. "We feel like we put ourselves in this position and we met every requirement that was asked of us. And, that's why we're in the position we are."

Inspectors looked at everything, from the dispensary's policies and procedures to its inventory control and security.

"It gets the right people in the business and keeps the wrong people out," Myer pointed out about the DHS' thorough inspection process.

Surveillance cameras are mounted throughout the building's Glendale Boulevard location; partitions are made of bulletproof glass and walls are reinforced.

"Our plan was to provide an overwhelming sense of security to hopefully never have to deal with any issues," Myer said.

And now with the state's approval to operate, Myer said he's preparing to serve the community.

"It's a great opportunity to not only help people, but to be part of a movement," he said.

And future dispensary operators, including Joe McKee with The Kind Relief, Inc. in Page, are watching Myer's business closely as they ponder how to proceed.

"There's still the argument by the Maricopa county attorney saying it's illegal," said McKee. "So, technically we're worried about Joe Arpaio, if you will, and all those guys coming after him, actually trying to make arrests. So, we're going to kind of let them be the guinea pigs and then go from there."

DHS tells CBS 5 News Arizona Organix has the legal right to open for business immediately.

Myer said he hasn't determined an opening date, but is aiming for the beginning of December.

Humble made an important note in his blog concerning how this affects the self-grow portions of Arizona's medical marijuana law.

Starting Friday, Nov. 16, DHS will be declining new "requests to cultivate" for new medical marijuana cardholders in the metro Phoenix area.

Self growing is only allowed for patients who live more than 25 miles from a dispensary.

Humble's blog also stated:

"We're also adding a new feature to our web site to help people figure out if they live within 25 miles of a dispensary. Because of the changes to the system, we just took it offline. We'll work on it over the weekend and most of the application process should be up and running on Monday."

DHS tells CBS 5 News the next dispensary inspection will be conducted Tuesday, Nov. 20 in the Tucson area.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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