Saying there’s no reason for legal intervention, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge on Thursday to throw out Gov. Jan Brewer’s lawsuit seeking a ruling on the state’s medical marijuana law. Attorney Dan Pachoda said the governor has no legal basis to try to get what amounts to an “advisory opinion” on whether Arizonans can sell, buy or use medical marijuana in accordance with state law without running afoul of federal anti-drug statutes. He said that only when a medical marijuana user, seller or cultivator is charged with violating federal laws will the issue be “ripe” for a court ruling. Pachoda also derided claims by Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne that they need a federal court ruling to ensure that state health department employees who process the applications of patients and dispensaries would not be charged with “facilitating” the illegal possession of drugs under federal law. “The courts have rightly understood that you need something more than the fact that one could be charged under a particular statute,” he said. “You need some imminent threat of prosecution that’s more than just speculation.”
But Horne said there is a legal basis for asking the court to look at the state and federal laws. He also took a slap at the ACLU. “I served 24 years on a school board,” he said. “I used to say if you don’t get sued at least twice a year by the ACLU, you’re not doing your job.” The dispute surrounds the law approved by voters last November allowing anyone with a doctor’s recommendation and a state-issued ID card to buy up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from a state-licensed dispensary. More than 6,500 individual use permits already have been issued, but the state is refusing to accept applications for dispensaries while there is a question of criminal liability under federal drug law, which Brewer and Horne are asking the judge to clarify. Pachoda pointed out that state health director Will Humble asked Dennis Burke, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, for some guidance on whether state employees were at risk.
Burke responded that the Department of Justice has little interest in prosecuting patients, but anyone who sells marijuana commercially is subject to prosecution. He never mentioned any possible prosecution of state workers whose sole role is processing permit requests. In a subsequent interview, Burke noted he specifically did not reference state workers as being in jeopardy. Horne said that even if there is no danger to state workers, there is still a legitimate reason to seek a federal court ruling. “There’s certainly an issue for distributors,” the attorney general said of Burke’s memo. “He said they’ll vigorously prosecute them.” Horne said the state has a legitimate interest in knowing if anyone who is operating under Arizona’s medical marijuana law could end up facing federal charges.
via : Arizona Daliy Star
You must be logged in to post a comment.