Hawaii was the first state to legalize medical marijuana via legislation, in 2000. Its first dispensaries are set to open in July. (Brennan Linsley, Associated Press file)

Outcry forces Arizona lawmaker to drop effort to limit medical marijuana

PHOENIX — A Republican lawmaker has withdrawn a bill restricting access to medical marijuana in Arizona after receiving hundreds of complaints.

The bill by Rep. Jay Lawrence of Scottsdale would have removed physicians practicing alternative medicine such as naturopathy and homeopathy from the list of doctors that can issue medical marijuana referrals. More than 87 percent of all referrals came from naturopaths and homeopaths in the budget year starting last July.

Lawrence apologized to Arizona residents Friday after receiving hundreds of emails and phone calls from concerned Arizona residents who use medical marijuana legally. He said he did not do enough research before introducing the measure.

Lawrence says he does not plan to introduce or support any similar proposals in the future.

Nearly 88,000 patients are qualified for the state’s medical marijuana program.