Thirteen county attorneys have banded together to urge Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to shut down the state’s medical marijuana program. The attorneys are concerned that the program forces state employees to participate in federal crimes by issuing licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries.
On July 24th, the attorneys all signed a letter written by Attorney Sheila Polk. The letter asks Governor Brewer to stop the state from issuing licenses to medical marijuana collectives because the medical marijuana program is not legal under the Controlled Substance Act, a federal law.
The three page letter points out Polk’s longtime concerns with the program and how it involves state employees. With the federal government closing down and targeting medical marijuana collectives in other states, such as California and Montana, Polk and her fellow attorneys believe that Governor Brewer should not put the state or its employees at risk.
Following this, she wrote, “We believe it is bad public policy for one arm of the government to facilitate marijuana cultivation and use while another arm of the government is moving to close it down.” Polk believes that it is also bad policy for the state to waste the time and money of potential marijuana business owners “knowing full well that these business ventures will result in significant financial repercussions when the US attorney shuts them down.”
Polk also explained in the letter that she has been told that Arizona’s newly appointed US Attorney John Leonardo “fully intends to prevent any dispensaries from operating in Arizona by seizing each and every one as it opens and commits violations” of the federal act. However, a spokesperson for Leonardo said that Polk’s representation of the US Attorney’s stance on medical marijuana is inaccurate.
State health officials have declined to respond to Polk’s letter. In the past, state health officials have shared sentiments similar to those in Polk’s letter.
On Thursday, Governor Brewer responded to the attorneys, saying that she is “deeply concerned about potential abuses of the law” as well as conflicts between Arizona state law and federal law such as the Controlled Substances Act, but she must implement Arizona’s medical marijuana program because it was approved by the state’s voters.
Governor Brewer also countered the letter with the fact that the federal government has not made their view on Arizona’s medical marijuana program totally transparent, despite their actions against collectives in other states.
Polk told The Republic that she appreciated Brewer’s “thoughtful response,” but she does not fully agree with the way the Governor is handling the state’s MMJ program.