Copper Area News
At the July 2, 2014, meeting of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios called for an investigation into a “notice” that was turned over to him by one of his constituents.
The notice, as Supervisor Rios called it, was allegedly from Bloom Dispensaries, a medical marijuana management company, and sent to some of its patients. Parts of the notice was read out loud at the meeting by Supervisor Rios. According to Rios, the notice offered transportation to anyone willing to travel to Florence and testify at the Board hearing held on June 18 during which the Board of Supervisors approved the location for a medical marijuana dispensary in Oracle to be managed by Bloom Dispensaries. The notice also said, “As a token of our appreciation the first 25 patients to RSVP and attend the hearing will receive a free 1/8 ounce of medicine in the strain of your choice.”
According to the Bloom Dispensaries website, a 1/8 ounce of medical marijuana is priced between $50 and $55 depending on type and potency.
Supervisor Rios, who reported that he had served on the Judiciary Committee while in the state legislature, called the offering a bribe.
“This is a quid pro quo,” Rios said. “Come and testify and we are going to give you some free marijuana.”
Rios went on to say that “Oracle residents were concerned about Dr. Wilt. It seems to me that we went from the frying pan to the fire if this is who is going to be operating that medical marijuana dispensary.” Supervisor Rios said he will be sending a copy of the notice to the Arizona Department of Health Services who licenses and oversees medical marijuana dispensaries.
Bloom Dispensaries was contacted and informed about the allegations made by Supervisor Rios. L. Edward Judice, Bloom C.E.O. made the following public statement:
“Bloom Dispensaries has reviewed the public statement made by Supervisor Rios at the July 2, 2014 BOS Regular Session and is saddened by the mischaracterization of Bloom Dispensaries efforts to give voice to the medical marijuana cardholders of Pinal County.
“Bloom gives away free and discounted medicine on an ongoing basis as part of its mission to provide affordable medicine to its patients. Bloom offers free medicine to patients who serve breakfast to those less fortunate at St. Vincent De Paul, to patients who clean city streets as part of the Phoenix adopt-a street program, and to patients who donate canned food during food drives and every Bloom patient receives a birthday gift of free medicine. In addition, everyday at Bloom every Veteran receives a discount – and a gift of medicine on Veteran’s Day. Our Senior Citizen patients receive discounts, and we offer free medicine in a number of marketing promotions. We record every medical marijuana transaction in the Arizona Department of Health Services database.
“In an email to existing Bloom patients in Oracle, Arizona and Pinal County, Bloom offered a ride to the June 18 Pinal County Board of Supervisors hearing to those Medical Marijuana cardholders who don’t own a car, or otherwise couldn’t find a way to attend. For those patients in the Oracle area, having a safe and legal source for medical marijuana is an important issue. There is a great tradition of groups including the Democratic Party offering free rides to individuals to participate in the public process dating back to the civil rights movement. Bloom is proud to empower those voices that otherwise might be silenced.
“Bloom recognizes that many of our patients have transportation and health issues and that attending the hearing would be a sacrifice. We offered a modest amount (about 2% of a patient’s monthly allotment) of free medicine to those patients who attended the hearing regardless of how they might testify, either in favor or against the proposed dispensary. There is absolutely no law against this, and it is categorically not Bribery as has been alleged. Any claim that Bloom did anything illegal or improper is patently false and demonstrates reckless disregard for the truth and the law.
“Offering free or discounted medicine is a point of pride for Bloom Dispensaries. We will offer the same programs to make medicine as affordable as possible to patients in the Oracle community. We thank those courageous citizens who showed up to express their opinions at the hearing, both in favor and in opposition, whether they drove themselves, or got a ride.”
The July 2, 2014 meeting of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors may be viewed in its entirety here.