Medical Marijuana Policy Hearing in Tempe Draws Large Crowd

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It's standing-room only here at the state-sponsored public hearing on medical marijuana at Arizona State University.

Looks like at least 400 people showed up, cramming into all the chairs and lining up along the back wall of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law's Great Hall in Tempe. This is just one of four hearings scheduled this week by the state Department of Health Services, which is charged with developing rules and regulations for medical marijuana retail outlets and cultivation facilities.

The DHS published its second draft of rules on January 31, and will review input from these hearings as well as letters and e-mails about the rules. The final draft of rules is due March 28.

People interested in owning a dispensary are well-represented, along with lots of folks who just want to throw in their two buds' worth of opinion.

It doesn't look like any time limits are being placed on the speakers, and this could be a problem considering the long line of hopeful speakers. Audience participation is high, with lots of applause following statements about the use or growing of marijuana and the desire for a robust medical pot system.

So far, the five DHS representatives at the front of the room are listening patiently to the first few speakers; we imagine that could change as the hearing goes on. It started at 3:30 p.m. and is scheduled to run till 6:30 p.m.

One guy just asked the crowd who was "for" medical marijuana -- most people raised a hand.

We'll update shortly and let you know what people are saying...

Click here for Part One of our live-blogging of comments, and here for Part Two.

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