Arizona files lawsuit over recently enacted medical marijuana laws

By Eric W. Dolan
Sunday, May 29, 2011 13:03 EDT
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Governor Jan Brewer (R) has ordered the Arizona attorney general to file a lawsuit seeking a ruling from a federal court on the legality of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and has suspended the state’s permit process for marijuana dispensaries.

The Arizona Republic reported Brewer said she fears that state employees could be in jeopardy because of a letter she received from U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, even though Burke’s said his office would not go after people who use medical marijuana in compliance with state law.

“The State of Arizona has worked to follow the wishes of voters,” Brewer said in a statement. “But I won’t stand aside while state employees and average Arizonans acting in good faith are unwittingly put at risk. In light of the explicit warnings on this issue offered by Arizona’s U.S. Attorney, as well as many other federal prosecutors, clarity and judicial direction are in order.”

Burke told the Republic that he had no plan to prosecute state employees.

Proposition 203, which allows patients in Arizona to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, was passed by a majority of Arizona voters in 2010.

Arizona’s lawsuit names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke as defendants.

Brewer did not publicly state her opposition to the law, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona said Brewer was seeking a ruling that the Arizona law is preempted by federal law and should be struck down because it is in conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act.

“By taking the highly unusual step of challenging her own state’s law, Gov. Brewer is undermining the will of Arizona voters and unconscionably seeking to prevent thousands of sick Arizonans from being able to access important medicine,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “People should have the freedom to choose the medicine their doctors believe is most effective for them.”

Attorney Lisa Hauser, who authored the state’s medical-marijuana law, agreed with the ACLU’s assessment. She said the lawsuit was intended to strike down the new laws, but that Brewer did not want to take a position because she feared upsetting the voters.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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