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Arizona: Governor Finally Agrees To Fully Implement State’s 2010 Voter-Approved Medical Cannabis Law

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 13, 2012

    Nearly 14 months after Arizona voters approved Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is finally directing the Arizona Department of Health Services to move forward to fully implementation the law.

    A brief history: In November 2010 Arizona voters narrowly decided in favor of ballot measure 203, which removes state-level criminal penalties for the use and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by patients who have written certification from their physician indicating that cannabis may alleviate their condition. The measure also mandated the state to adopt rules to govern the establishment of up to 125 nonprofit cannabis dispensaries, which would be legally authorized to produce and dispense marijuana to authorized patients on a not-for-profit basis.

    In April 2011, the Arizona Department of Health Services formalized rules regarding an online ID-card registration for qualified patients. (More than 16,000 Arizona residents are now registered with the state to legally possess cannabis.) The Department also announced at that time that it would begin accepting applications from would-be dispensary operators by June 1. That deadline came and went, however, when Gov. Brewer — who had opposed the passage of AMMA — filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that her administration’s compliance with the law’s state-licensing provisions would put state employees in danger of federal prosecution. In response to Gov. Brewer’s suit, attorneys representing the American Civil Liberties Union and the NORML Legal Committee co-authored a Motion to Dismiss the case.

    Their efforts were successful. Earlier this month, a federal judge rejected Gov. Brewer’ challenge, asserting “[T]he Complaint does not detail any history of prosecution of state employees for participation in state medical marijuana licensing schemes. [and] fails to establish that Plaintiffs are subject to a genuine threat of imminent prosecution and consequently, the Complaint does not meet the constitutional requirements for ripeness. Therefore, Plaintiffs’ claims are unripe and must be dismissed.”

    So, has Gov. Brewer finally gotten the message? Apparently so.

    Today, Brewer’s office stated for the record that they would no longer challenge the state’s nascent law in court and instead will cooperate to see that the voters’ demands are once and for all fully enacted. Said the Governor in a press release:

    “The State of Arizona will not re-file in federal court a lawsuit that sought clarification that State employees would not be subject to federal criminal prosecution simply for implementing the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Instead, I have directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to begin accepting and processing dispensary applications, and issuing licenses for those facilities once a (separate) pending legal challenge to the Department’s medical marijuana rules is resolved. … With our request for clarification rebuffed on procedural grounds by the federal court, I believe the best course of action now is to complete the implementation of Proposition 203 in accordance with the law.”

    According to the website of the Arizona Department of Health, the department hopes to begin accepting applications for dispensaries this summer. To date, only three states — Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico — have granted licenses to allow for the state-sanctioned production and distribution of cannabis. (Several other states, including Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have enacted licensing legislation but to date have refused to issue any actual dispensary licenses.)

    Under Arizona law, qualified patients may cultivate their own cannabis at home if they do not reside within 25 miles of an operating cannabis dispensary.

    Additional information regarding Arizona’s medicinal cannabis program is available from the Arizona Department of Health Services here.

    38 Responses to “Arizona: Governor Finally Agrees To Fully Implement State’s 2010 Voter-Approved Medical Cannabis Law”

    1. Cat Cassie says:

      Brewer is only agreeing to the voter approved MMJ law because she knows it will only be a matter of time before the feds come in and shut them down.

    2. […] licensing legislation but to date have refused to issue any actual dispensary licenses.)" http://blog.norml.org/2012/01/13/ari…-cannabis-law/ Who is this man and why is he trying to save our country? Google Ron Paul 2012. […]

    3. William Dowty Watson Jr. says:

      Passionate Physician Paul Powerfully Possible
      President Protects People Promotes Peace ProLIFE Plants Perpetual Prosperity (POT)
      Perfects Perfect Political Plans
      PHENOMENONal

    4. W.D.W.Jr. says:

      Grandpa Pres. Rand Paul vice Pres.2012!

    5. WDWjunior says:

      Representative Ron Really Respects Reform.
      Research.Read.Reduce Restrictions.Regain Rich Rewards.Ron and Rand Paul 2012!

    6. Mike88 says:

      Unfortunately though the law as it is written does not go far enough in protecting dispensary operators from Federal DEA raids.

      The law also should say that if a raid occurs by Federal DEA Agents then the County Sheriff has not just the authority but the instructions to place under arrest any Federal Agent conducting a raid in his/her County that the raid occurs in and place those Federal Agents in County Jail for 30 days and a fine of $1000.00 for their 1st offence of violating State laws, of course the 2nd or more offences by Federal Agents the Jail times and fines are increased accordingly with no bail being allowed to be set.Federal Agents must serve their time in County jail, and pay their fine prior to release. This is what should be in the law, but so far no State Legislatures or Governors have had the courage to go this far. Lets hope that the State Legislatures and Governors finally get enough courage to do this last step which would be the right thing to do and we will see a much fewer raids happening at least with dispensaries all across the nation.

    7. Buster Jones says:

      I love Tucson,AZ. I hauled hunderds of pounds of marijuana back in the 70s. It will be nice to see that the people of AZ will be helped with medical marijuana. Peace, Bustger Jones.

    8. […] Arizona: Governor Finally Agrees To Fully Implement State’s 2010 Voter-Approved Medical Cannabis L… Nearly 14 months after Arizona voters approved Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is finally directing the Arizona Department of Health Services to move forward to fully implementation the law. A brief history: In November 2010 Arizona voters narrowly decided in favor of ballot measure 203, which removes state-level criminal penalties for the use and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by patients who have written certification from their physician indicating that cannabis may alleviate their condition. The measure also mandated the […] […]

    9. The Oracle says:

      Cat Cassie has it “purrfect.”

      However, as others and I entertained in previous postings on a different thread, were Obama to force Michele Leonhard to resign and install his own cannabis-friendly appointee in her stead, all the cannabis persecution can stop overnight.

      That clears the way for other states to take their MMJ programs off of hold and actually open up dispensaries, item NJ, RI, DE, etc.

      Obama needs to throw some red meat to his base, just as the republicans throw red meat to their base.

      Michele Leonhart’s resignation and replacement would be but a blip in the broadcast and print news, fading out after a couple of days on the tickers. Red meat for the base. Whom could Obama put in her place that would have a decent chance of confirmation. If Kerlikowske would do our bidding once he is in charge of the whole kit and caboodle after saying whatever he must basically to get confirmed, it would be a nice step up in the pay scale for him before he decided when and where he wants to retire. See if you can make Kerlikowske or find somebody else who has a chance and will do our bidding.

      Such a move would be a nascent nudge to move cannabis closer to the legalization end of the cannabis continuum.

    10. Anonymous says:

      All this ridiculousness is being brought on by the corporations & industries who want control over our lives and they do it through monetary contributions . Brewer is undoubtably another paid puppet . She’s going ahaead with this because the paid puppets in Washington known as the Fed’s will shut down the cannabis industry anyways .
      Here’s another example of how the corp’s are running our lives and it’s just not the medical marijuana business they’re attacking ;

      They want to shut down Craigslist, too

      Stop HR 3261 (SOPA) and S 968 (PIPA) Internet Blacklist Bills

      dangerous bills will pass – they have tremendous lobbying dollars behind them, from large corporations reportedly hoping to prop up outdated, anti-consumer business models at the expense of the very fabric of the Internet — recklessly unleashing a tsunami of take-down notices and litigation, and a Pandora’s jar of “chilling effects” and other unintended (or perhaps intended?) consequences.

      Monster Cable considers craigslist a “rogue site” for takedown under PIPA – they want to prevent YOU from selling your unwanted cables so they can increase sales! Many other “rights holders” want to do the same. Boycott anyone? There is an app for that.

      SOPA/PIPA supporters want to block you from reaching ANY site they think is hurting their profits — without review in any court — by interrupting Internet traffic via DNS at ISPs and by censoring search engine results. Many lawmakers are prepared to give them that right.

      Congress is now backpedaling on some of this anti-American nonsense, but please remind them that these bills cannot be fixed — they must be killed.

      Please let your Members of Congress know you OPPOSE H.R. 3621 “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and S. 968 “Protect IP Act” (PIPA):

      Phone, yes phone your Member of Congress! (House) (Senate)
      EFF Congressional Emailer – Oppose Internet Blacklisting (SOPA & PIPA)
      OpenCongress Congressional Emailer – Oppose SOPA
      Generic Congressional Emailer (You’ll need your Zip+4)

      Learn more about SOPA, Protect IP (PIPA), and Internet Blacklisting:

      Opponents of SOPA: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, AOL, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, Zynga, EFF, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX)

      Supporters of SOPA: RIAA, MPAA, News Corporation, VISA, Mastercard, Pfizer, Comcast, Time Warner, ABC, Nike, Walmart, Dow Chemical, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Monster Cable, Teamsters, Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI)

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