ACLU asks court to toss Brewer’s suit asking for ruling on medical pot

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

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