Judge dismisses Arizona's medical marijuana suit

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PHOENIX -- U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton threw out a lawsuit brought by Gov. Jan Brewer in an attempt to block Arizona's voter-approved medical marijuana dispensary program, known as Proposition 203.

Joe Yuhas with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association has high hopes for the future.

“It’s time we moved forward and implement Prop. 203 in its entirety and allow medical marijuana patients to obtain their marijuana from dispensaries,” Yuhas said.

Proposition 203 was passed by Arizona voters in 2010, giving sick patients the green light to buy medical marijuana.

But last May, Brewer filed the lawsuit in federal court, haulting dispensaries from selling the drug.

“The governor’s priority throughout this case is to get guidance from the court in terms of this conflict between federal drug law and medical marijuana Prop 203," said Brewer’s spokesman, Matthew Benson. "There are some inherent conflicts there.”
Benson said Brewer wants to make sure state employees will not face federal prosecution, jail time or fines for doing their jobs, which will involve regulating Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which prohibits the possession, usage, purchase, sale, and cultivation of marijuana.

“That's a position no state employee should be in,” Benson said.

Bolton said the case isn't legally eligible for court consideration because the state hasn't shown there's a genuine threat of prosecution of its employees.

“Certainly it's a tremendous disappointment," Benson said. "What we have is a federal court saying the state can't file suit on this issue until one of our state employees has been prosecuted by the federal court by administering prop 203.”

Benson also said the governor is  working with her attorneys to decide what the best course of action is for the state.

The case can be appealed in the next 30 days.  

“What happens next is up to our state leaders," Yuhas said. "If they choose to appeal it means, frankly, a continuing waste of tax dollars.”