September 15, 2017 Arizona
The Supreme Court of Arizona, on Tuesday, declined the request to review a lower court’s ruling that the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act isn’t preempted by the federal law. The lower court had ruled that the state of Arizona has the power to allow marijuana to be used medically, despite of the fact that it’s illegal, federally. The ruling also dismantled the argument suggesting that the county officials, issuing zoning permits to medical marijuana sellers, would be aiding in the violation of the federal law.
The judges held that their ruling was, in no way, meant to prevent the users of medical marijuana from being prosecuted by the federal authorities. However, the plaintiff’s attorney, Steven White, argued that a budget provision impedes the US Justice Department from prosecuting the users of medical marijuana who are complying with state laws. The situation won’t change, at least, until the 8th of December.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows the residents of the state, with state issued ID cards, to purchase up to 2f ounces of cannabis every two weeks, depending upon the doctors’ prescriptions. Consequently, a network of private dispensaries was also setup for the purpose of selling marijuana. The network was, and still is, state regulated and the dispensaries require permits from the state, in order to operate.
Maricopa County Attorney, Bill Montgomery, advocates for the upholding of federal law. According to him, all new dispensaries, selling marijuana, need to be blocked and the voter approved Medical Marijuana Act of 2010 must be rendered, completely, void. Not doing so, in his opinion, represents the failure of every level of the judicial structure in Arizona.
Montgomery is one of the staunchest critics of Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. But his reasons for the criticism differ from the majority. While most criticize the legalization of medical marijuana because the research on its effects is scarce, Montgomery chooses to stand against it because it runs against the federal law. Recently, White Mountain Health sought incorporation within the jurisdiction of Maricopa County. Montgomery, however, instructed the county officials to not provide the permit required, holding that facilitating the sale of marijuana is prohibited under the federal law. Montgomery contends that the federal laws supersede the laws of every state.
However, Donn Kessler, a judge in the appellate court, wrote in his decision, last year, that there is no prohibition, in the federal law, regarding the states having their separate drug laws, according to the Controlled Substances Act.
The judge commented that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, simply, grants immunity to the residents of Arizona, who are involved in the legal use of marijuana, from prosecution under the laws of Arizona. The federal government, he said, can still enforce its own laws and bring such individuals under federal prosecution if it chooses to.
Montgomery argued, however, that the fact that Arizona’s medical marijuana program is able to stand, despite the fact that it runs against the federal law, is, in itself, a violation of the fundamental principles of the general rule of law.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]