PHOENIX - (AzNewswire.com) A federal judge today granted a request by The Arizona Association of Dispensary Professionals and the American Civil Liberties Union to throw out a lawsuit filed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer seeking to strike down the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law that would allow sick patients to access important medicine.
Federal Judge Grants Request to Toss Challenge on Arizona Medical Marijuana
Filed in May, Brewer argued in the lawsuit that state officials fear federal prosecution for implementing the law, despite Arizona's former top federal prosecutor saying publicly the federal government has "no intention of targeting or going after people who are implementing or who are in compliance with state law."
In today's ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton said there is no genuine threat of imminent federal prosecution of state officials who carry out the law. While the Judge did grant the Governor thirty days in which to amend her compliant, Judge Bolton, nevertheless stated in her Order that she is "unconvinced" that the State could correct the defects in the case. The Judge did focus on the "ripeness issue", a point driven home by ACLU attorney Ezekiel Edwards.
The Arizona Association of Dispensary Professionals, llc (AADP) was the first defendant to challenge the Governors complaint. AADP is Arizona's largest marijuana trade organization representing the interest of over 10,000 members. AADP believes the Governor's complaint was disingenuous and frivolous and a concerted scheme with other government officials who conspired to thwart the will of the Arizona voters and intentionally delay, impede, and otherwise prevent the AMMA from being implemented. Allan Sobol, President of AADP, has repeatedly stated, "This is not about marijuana. This is about government abuse. Whether you are pro or con marijuana you need to be alarmed with the Governors attempts to over ride the will of the Voters.
As Governor, Ms Brewer is vested with the supreme executive power of Arizona and is responsible for the faithful execution of all laws, including the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. . The Governor's complaint was an attempted line item veto, an attempt to deny the will of the people as expressed in a part of an initiative they passed. Thus, the complaint is in violation of the Arizona Voter Protection Act, a constitutional amendment enshrined in pertinent part in Article IV, Part 1, Section 1, Subsection 6(A), of the Arizona Constitution: "The veto power of the governor shall not extend to an initiative measure approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon or to a referendum measure decided by a majority of the votes cast thereon."
Nor can the executive branch try to amend or modify AMMA. Not only does that violate the executive branches rulemaking authority, it also usurps the power of the legislature to amend laws.
But even the legislature is precluded from tampering with an initiative. Subsection 6(C) of the same section provides as follows: "The legislature shall not have the power to amend an initiative measure approved by a majority of the votes cast legislature, by a roll call of ayes and nays, vote to amend such measure." thereon, or to amend a referendum measure decided by a majority of the votes cast thereon, unless the amending legislation furthers the purposes of such measure and at least three-fourths of the members of each house of the le This complaint, therefore, is in violation of the Arizona Constitution. Although the Arizona Voter Protection Act specifically precludes the governor from "vetoing" an initiative, the effect is the same. The Arizona Voter Protection Act was specifically meant to preclude the executive branch from preventing the governor and her administration from stopping a voter initiative, passed by a majority of the voters in Arizona, from going into effect. While the executive branch seeks to disguise its veto as a civil complaint, if the court granted the requested relief, the effect will be the same: Qualified patients would have be denied their right to obtain voted approved medical marijuana
The Governor has the option of accepting the courts decision and fully implementing the AMMA, or appealing the decision and further delaying the program. Now that the federal courts have ruled there are a number of State Court actions pending which court force the Governor to implement the AMMA. Hopefully the Governor will stop these antics, support the will of the voters and fully implement the law as intended. With the current economic conditions in Arizona it is truly unfortunate that the Governor continues to waste taxpayers money on meritless civil actions. The
Governor should embrace the AMMA as a way to help seriously ill patients and create jobs for the unemployed. The AMMA when fully implemented can create thousands of high paying jobs across the state.
Arizona voters in 2010 passed Proposition 203, which allows seriously ill patients in Arizona to use marijuana as medicine with a doctor's recommendation. The law allows marijuana to be distributed by tightly regulated clinics to patients with state-issued registry cards and exempts from state prosecution not only seriously ill Arizonans but also their caregivers and a limited number of certified, non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries that will serve qualifying patients.
The state has issued over 19,000 medical marijuana cards to qualified patients collecting almost 3 million dollars in fees, but has fraudulently failed to provide a way, consistent with the AMMA, for patients to obtain their voter approved medication .
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