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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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12/5/2012 9:51:00 PM
Arizona judge upholds medical marijuana law
Staff and wire reports

PHOENIX - Arizona's medical marijuana law is constitutional and federal drug laws don't stand in the way of public officials implementing it, a judge said Tuesday in a ruling that sets the stage for the opening of the state's first pot dispensary.

"This court will not rule that Arizona, having sided with the ever-growing minority of states and having limited it to medical use, has violated public policy," wrote Judge Michael Gordon of Maricopa County Superior Court.

The case started with a dispute over whether Maricopa County had to approve zoning for a dispensary in Sun City. It grew to include the larger legal question of whether federal drug laws pre-empt Arizona's medical marijuana law.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk has stated she might recommend against issuing final county clearances for dispensaries, such as certificates of occupancy. Seven dispensary applicants are authorized to open in Yavapai County. The voter-approved law prevents the state from naming the dispensary lottery winners.

Gordon ruled that the state law only provides a narrow allowance for use of marijuana for medical allowances under a tightly regulated state system, and as a result is not pre-empted by the federal law criminalizing marijuana sale and possession.

"No one can argue that the federal government's ability to enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) is impaired to the slightest degree," the judge said.

Jeffrey Kaufman, a lawyer for White Mountain Health Center, the proposed dispensary that was the subject of the court fight, hailed the ruling.

"It's great news - unequivocal," he said.

The Keep Az Drug Free group called the decision a huge surprise.

"The decision is so obviously wrong it defies reason," said Carolyn Short, a retired lawyer and Chairman of Keep Az Drug Free. "In order to reach this result, Judge Gordon had to ignore clear and consistent higher court (appellate) precedent to the contrary. His decision will be reversed on appeal."

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said they would appeal.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: B W

who cares either way?

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: A Liberal Perspective.

Medical marijuana like it or not was voted into law. All these conservative politicians are yanking on every string possible to tie the process up in the courts. But........just like the fact that President Obama won the election in 2012, these conservatives must and will have to come to terms with this new world order. Their just putting up a good show for their constituents........."Oh look at us putting up the good moral fight against the evil weed".
These politicians will have a quick change of mind when Arizona eventually follows a few other states that recently voted for and passed legalized marijuana for recreational use. They will wish for the days when marijuana was only being used for medical reasons. At this point these conservatives are obstructing justice. The people of this state have spoken..........now get out of the way.

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: Keep AZ Free

Yeah that's legal. The arbitrary denial of occupancy, even though the building would be deemed safe to occupy, were it not for the personal prejudices of the Attorney's office. Doesn't look so good, does it ?

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2012
Article comment by: I Wonder

I wonder if the Keep Arizona drug Free group is also intent on eliminating or standing in the way of distribution of pharmaceuticals as well. There are thousands of much more dangerous new drugs being made available for consumption every year. Drugs are drugs.

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