On Tuesday, an Arizona trial judge ruled that the state’s medical marijuana law is legal and not preempted by federal law.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon rejected previous arguments from County Attorney Bill Montgomery and Attorney General Tom Horne that the medical marijuana act is void because the possession and sale of marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Gordon cited 17 other states plus the District of Columbia which have deemed medical marijuana to be legal. He wrote, “This court will not file that Arizona, having sided with the ever-growing minority of states and having limited it to medical use, has violated public policy.”
Many collective owners who had hoped to open up shop in Arizona were denied permits and zoning letters because state officials did not want to be prosecuted under federal law. Now, that stalling in the system should be eradicated and dispensaries should be able to move forward with the process of opening their doors for patients.
Attorney General Horne thinks Gordon missed the mark, because selling marijuana, no matter what the intended use, is against federal law. “A state cannot authorize what the federal government prohibits,” he stated. Horne referred to last year’s ruling in Oregon which stated their medical marijuana program was preempted by federal law.
During the ruling, Gordon acknowledged the earlier Oregon ruling, but said he sees no conflict for Arizona. Gordon went so far as to say that the state’s medical marijuana program actually aligns with the federal government’s goal of combating drug abuse issues.
“The Arizona statute requires a physician to review a patient’s medical circumstances prior to authorization of its use,” he explained. People who are caught using marijuana without a card are still subject to arrest.
Arizona’s 2010 medical marijuana law allows a network of up to 125 state licensed collectives. So far, only two dispensaries have been approved– one in Glendale and one in Tuscon.