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Arizona Dispensaries Still Stalled, But One Step Closer

Posted: Jan.07.12  |  Author:  |  Category: Dan's Stash

Medical Marijuana BrewerIt comes as no surprise that a federal judge threw out Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s complaint against her state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law this week. Brewer had filed the complaint in May seeking a judgment on whether state officials could be at risk for federal prosecution for administering Arizona’s medical-marijuana programs even though the federal government had clearly stated that Arizona employees would not be at risk.

U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton reiterated this by dismissing the complaint without prejudice, ruling enforcement actions by federal officials posed no genuine threat to state officials seeking to implement the law.

In her dismissal Bolton wrote: “Plaintiffs, have not shown that any action against state employees in this state is imminent or even threatened.” Further, the complaint failed to show that any state officials had been prosecuted in other states for “participation in state medical marijuana licensing schemes.”

The actions of federal officials concerning other states’ medical marijuana programs “do not substantiate a credible, specific warning or threat to initiate criminal proceedings against state employees in Arizona” if they were to enforce the marijuana act, Bolton wrote.

Upon filing her lawsuit, Brewer ordered all applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in the state be rejected by Arizona’s Department of Health Services. Opponents of the lawsuit say it is a political stall tactic Brewer is using to keep dispensaries from opening. Brewer’s stance on dispensaries hasn’t changed in light of Wednesday’s decision.

“It is unconscionable for Governor Brewer to continue to force very sick people to needlessly suffer by stripping them of the legal avenue through which to obtain their vital medicine,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project. “Today’s ruling underscores the need for state officials to stop playing politics and implement the law as approved by a majority of Arizona voters so that thousands of patients can access the medicine their doctors believe is most effective for them.”

Unfortunately, dispensaries still cannot get approval by the State. Brewer’s office must now make a decision: either appeal the complaint or implement the law as approved by the people of Arizona. In the mean time, patients are forced to find medicine from caregivers or other patients through medical marijuana classifieds or marijuana caregiver associations.

Let’s hope she leaves the politics to the legislative branch and starts doing the job the people of Arizona elected her to do.