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Editorial: The Most Important Medical Marijuana Lawsuit in Recent History?

White Mountain Lawsuit Arizona MarijuanaI am privileged to represent White Mountain Health Center, Inc., the only applicant for a dispensary in the Sun City CHAA. Let me give you some background and then explain its significance.

White Mountain sued Maricopa County, William Montgomery, DHS and Will Humble, its Director, because DHS refused to accept and threatened to reject its application for a Dispensary Registry Certificate. DHS claimed that the application was defective because Maricopa County, the “local governing jurisdiction” of Sun City refused to provide verification of local zoning requirements for medical marijuana businesses or the lack of local restrictions. Maricopa County Attorney Montgomery claimed that the county could not provide information because to do so could subject county employees to prosecution for violating or facilitating violation of federal law that makes all forms of cannabis illegal. This was the same excuse that Gov. Jan Brewer tried to use about a year ago, with regard to state employees, but U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Bolton didn’t buy it. In order to protect its rights, White Mountain sought and received a Preliminary Injunction preventing DHS from denying its application. Since that time, the State of Arizona sought and obtained permission from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon to “intervene” and argue that the all portions of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (the “AMMA”) that allow anyone to buy, sell, dispense or grow cannabis are void because they conflict with and are pre-empted by federal law. I’m not sure why the state of Arizona sought to intervene because the pre-emption argument has already been raised Maricopa County.

The current status of this dispute is that all relevant arguments are set for hearing before Judge Gordon on October 19, 2012. Fortunately for me and my clients, the ACLU and the ACLU of Arizona have agreed to serve as my co-counsel with regard to the federal pre-emption issue.

This is an extremely important case because the Defendants and the State have chosen to make it the venue for the Superior Court to decide whether the AMMA, a voter-passed initiative, is valid or invalid. Even though it is a virtual certainty that the loser will appeal to the Arizona Court of Appeals, to infinity and beyond, the defendants sought and received an accelerated hearing date, from the prior date set by Judge Gordon, which was after the Election Day. At first I thought that they did this because, in their opinion, it would generate favorable publicity before the election. However, upon reflection, I believe that the defendants hope that Judge Gordon will rule in their favor before DHS has to inspect any proposed, constructed dispensaries and grant permission for any dispensaries to open.

Our elected officials just cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that the voters passed a law and that their job is to enforce it, rather than to challenge it. They would rather pander to their constituents than yield to the will of the people. I hope that many of you who read this will contact your elected officials including, but not limited to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and your state and federal legislators. Please urge them to support the AMMA and federal legislation that would remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I Controlled Substances. This way medicinal cannabis can be prescribed by reputable health care providers for the many patients that are suffering due to the difficulty of obtaining their medicine.

Thank you and always remember to carry your card!

Jeff Kaufman has more than 30 years of experience in Arizona. His practice encompasses the fields of real estate, business, corporate, private offerings and personal injury. You can reach Jeff at or (480) 994-8000.

Jeffrey S. Kaufman, Esq.
Attorney at Law
5725 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 190
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
(480) 994-8000
(480) 994-8129 fax