Arizona Governor Sues to Stop Medical Marijuana Program
Redundant Lawsuit Supposedly Aims to Establish Federal Legality
PHOENIX – In a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne announced that they are filing a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the medical marijuana program established in Arizona by the passage of Proposition 203 last November.
Even though the law was passed by a majority of Arizona voters, the governor and attorney general will not defend the law and instead asked the courts to decide if it is illegal under federal law.
"We are deeply frustrated by this announcement,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The law Governor Brewer wants enjoined established an extremely well thought-out and conservative medical marijuana system. The law was drafted so that a very limited number of non-profit dispensaries would serve the needs of patients who would be registered with the state. Governor Brewer is trying to disrupt this orderly system and replace it with relative chaos. Patients would not purchase their medicine at state-regulated dispensaries.
"Instead, they or their caregivers would grow marijuana in homes across the state. Some will even be forced to find their medicine on the streets. We cannot think of a single individual -- aside from possibly illegal drug dealers -- who would benefit from Governor Brewer's actions today. She has done a disservice to her state and its citizens."
Despite the effort and resources already devoted to implementing the program, Gov. Brewer ordered state health officials not to certify any more patients until the legality of the program is established in court.
"Gov. Brewer's lawsuit is not the first time elected officials have sought to spend taxpayer money to try to overturn a state medical marijuana law,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project and the co-drafter of Proposition 203. “Like the previous attempt, we expect her suit to fail. In 2005, San Diego County sought to enjoin most provisions of California's medical marijuana law, including a provision requiring counties to issue ID cards to patients and providers. It proceeded despite a poll finding that 78% of voters thought the lawsuit would be a waste of money.
"Ultimately, every court ruled against the county or refused to hear the case, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Similarly, the only decision on whether the licensing of dispensaries would be federally preempted has also found it would not be. It looks like Jan Brewer is having a contest with San Diego County to see who can waste the most taxpayer money on a futile attempt to overturn the will of voters."