May 26, 2011

Loophole In Law Says Arizona Governor Can’t Stop Medical Marijuana

May 26, 2011
arizona marijuana


arizona marijuanaProsecutors will still be prohibited from convicting legal medical marijuana patients

By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

The misguided efforts of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne to quash the state’s new medical marijuana won’t work, reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times.

Authorized patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis legally in Arizona since the passage of Proposition 203 by voters — without or without “state approval,” New Times reports.

“That’s why Brewer and Horne, two Republicans who are putting politics above the wishes of the electorate, haven’t mentioned any plans to stop the state from handing out medical marijuana registration cards,” Stern writes. “The smartly written Arizona Medical Marijuana Act anticipated an anti-democratic reaction like the one we saw Tuesday and included a powerful work-around.”

Arizona law requires:

If the department fails to issue a registry identification card within forty-five days of the submission of a valid application or renewal, the registry identification card shall be deemed issued, and a copy of the registry identification card application or renewal is deemed a valid registry identification card.

The governor understands this self-enacting part of the law, admitted her spokesman Matt Benson.

Though Gov. Brewer and AG Horne have said they’ll likely tell the Arizona Department of Health Services to put the dispensary program on hold until a federal court rules on its legality (stacked deck, anyone?), DHS “will continue issuing those cards as they have been until further notice.”

Jan Brewer marijuana leavesWhich means anyone with a copy of a registration card application can legally possess marijuana, but the state has no record of them.

“Without going into all the hypotheticals of the situation, suffice to say that Arizonans who want to qualify to legally possess marijuana under state law can do so,” Stern writes. “They can keep applying for and receiving state-approved cards, or, if the state stops taking registration card applications, they can just keep their unapproved applications handy.

“Prosecutors will still be prohibited from convicting legal medical marijuana patients,” Stern writes.

Qualified patients will still be allowed to grow up to five plants at home, as long as no dispensary opens within 25 miles. And “Thanks to the way Brewer and Horne are sticking it to voters, no dispensary will open anytime soon,” Stern writes.

As of Tuesday, the DHS had approved 3,696 medical marijuana applications since April 14 [PDF].

Applications don’t appear to have tapered off after Brewer and Horne’s announcement, according to DHS spokeswoman Laura Oxley.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.


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