An Arizona judge has overturned Maricopa County’s zoning ordinance that banned medical marijuana collectives from opening and operating in certain areas on the county. The judge called the ordinance a “transparent attempt” at keeping business out of unincorporated areas of the county.
Judge Michael Gordon said that the ordinance was written in a way that would keep dispensaries out of the county because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
While Maricopa County has the ability to apply zoning regulations for reasons of protecting public welfare, safety, and health, it is not allowed to specifically ban collectives, according to Gordon.
In his decision, Gordon wrote that the new ordinance “suggests a transparent attempt to prevent the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”
County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Tuesday the ruling will be appealed but it was premature to discuss details because parts of the case remain pending.
However, Montgomery said the part of Gordon’s ruling saying the ordinance appeared to be intended to prevent implementation of the medical marijuana law “assumes too much.”
The case started over 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.
Last December, Gordon upheld the constitutionality of the state’s medical marijuana law and ruled that federal drug laws don’t stand in the way of public officials implementing it.