Judge dismisses medical marijuana suit by Arizona

A federal judge dismissed Arizona’s medical-marijuana lawsuit Wednesday, saying the state couldn’t show workers were at risk of prosecution for following the voter-approved state law. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling removes the obstacle that Gov. Jan Brewer and state health officials said prevented the state from issuing permits for medical-pot dispensaries. Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the governor would consult with Attorney General Tom Horne before deciding whether to appeal. “What this court has essentially said is that it won’t hear the state’s lawsuit unless and until a state employee faces federal prosecution for enforcing Proposition 203,” Benson said. “The federal court has essentially punted on the issue.” Brewer filed suit in May, just days before the dispensary-permit process was to begin, asking the court to clarify whether U.S. drug laws override Prop. 203 and, if not, whether state workers are immune from federal prosecution for implementing it.

In her order, Bolton said the state could file an amended complaint, but would have to satisfy two key problems: Federal prosecutors have not threatened to prosecute state or municipal employees for following the law; and the state can’t show that any harm will come absent a court ruling. “Plaintiffs do not challenge any specific action taken by any defendant,” Bolton wrote. “Plaintiffs also do not describe any actions by state employees that were in violation of (the Controlled Substances Act) or any threat of prosecution for any reason by federal officials. “These issues, as presented, are not appropriate for judicial review.” The ruling came in response to a motion to dismiss filed by the ACLU. ACLU Attorney Ezekiel Edwards said Brewer could solve the dispute by implementing the law that voters approved. “The majority of voters in Arizona passed a statute to regulate marijuana as medicine,” Edwards said. “They’re just obstructing the will of the voters.” Five other medical-marijuana lawsuits are still pending in Maricopa County Superior Court, including two filed by would-be dispensary owners against the state for failing to fully implement the law.

via : AZCentral

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