Federal Judge Presses Arizona Leadership To Pick A Side In Medical Marijuana Issue

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Jan Brewer marijuana leaves

Gov. Jan Brewer

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton tore apart Governor Jan Brewer's politically motivated medical-marijuana lawsuit Monday, asking that the state declare whether they support the voter approved measure or not.

According to The Arizona Republic, on Monday, Judge Bolton said she will issue a ruling later but, Arizona has to pick a side in the conflict over state and federal law.

Gov. Jan Brewer has asked the federal court to clarify whether U.S. drug laws override the voter-approved state law and, if not, whether state workers are immune from federal prosecution if they fully implement Proposition 203.

In direct questioning, Bolton said the Attorney General's Office needs to do its job and give advice to state agencies, not leave it up to a judge.

"I'm used to having the plaintiff opposed to the defendant," the judge said. "You've got to advocate for one or the other, and you're not advocating for either."

The judge said it's not enough to acknowledge that state and federal laws conflict. "That's just stating the obvious," she said.

Additionally, The American Civil Liberties Union told a federal judge a lawsuit filed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer seeking to strike down the state's medical marijuana law that would allow sick patients to access important medicine should be thrown out.

Filed in May, Brewer argues in the lawsuit that state officials fear federal prosecution for implementing the law, despite Arizona's former top federal prosecutor saying publicly the federal government has "no intention of targeting or going after people who are implementing or who are in compliance with state law."

"The governor's lawsuit is a misguided attempt to undermine the will of Arizona voters and deny thousands of sick Arizonans the medicine their doctors believe is most effective for them," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project.

The law approved by voters last year allows those with a doctor's recommendation to get a state permit allowing them to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. The state already has issued more than 16,000 of those permits.

"Brewer and Horne are once again using the courts to play politics and advance their own anti-Prop 203 agenda," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Not only is this lawsuit a slap in the face to Arizona voters, but it’s actually going to do more harm than good in terms of public safety because it’s creating a less regulated system than what voters approved.”

That law also presumed that the source of those drugs would be about 125 state-licensed nonprofit dispensaries. But Brewer directed state Health Director Will Humble not to even accept applications.

More than 16,300 people now have state-issued ID cards allowing them to use medical pot for certain debilitating health conditions, but would-be dispensary owners are on hold.

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