Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Filed by Arizona Dismissed by Judge
On 21.01.12, In Legal Industry, by Blake Houser
The lawsuit filed by the state of Arizona which seeks to clarify whether its voter-approved medical pot law supersedes federal drug laws was junked Wednesday by a U.S. District Court judge.
Gov. Jan Brewer, in what can be considered as an odd legal request, asked the court to mediate the inconsistency between federal and state drug laws. However, Judge Susan Bolton junked the suit, saying the state was unable to show that its workers were in danger of federal prosecution for abiding by Proposition 203, or even if the state intended to fully implement the measure.
While the decision of Bolton paved the way for state health officials to start giving licenses to medical-marijuana dispensaries, officials are not expected to immediately being the process.
Matthew Benson, spokesman for Gov. Brewer, said that the governor would still have to confer with Attorney General Tom Horne before making a determination whether to file an appeal to Bolton’s ruling.
Benson said, “What this court has essentially said is that it won’t hear the state’s lawsuit unless and until a state employee faces federal prosecution for enforcing Proposition 203. The federal court has essentially punted on the issue.”
Under the measure, which was passed in 2010, state workers will issue special ID cards to individuals with specific medical conditions, authorizing them to use marijuana. The Department of Health Services is also allowed by Proposition 203 to issue permits for a set number of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Brewer filed the lawsuit in May, just a couple of days before the dispensary-permit process was to start. She requested the court to clarify whether U.S. federal drug laws prevail over Proposition 203 and if not, whether state workers in Arizona cannot be subject to federal prosecution for implementing the measure.