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

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 thoughts

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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)

  8. 14 months of delay by the Governor in an attempt to thwart the will of the voters. Kind of sounds like Russia…LOL! Oh well, it IS Arizona we’re talking about, a place where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness isn’t the #1 priority.

  9. Fed. HR 2306 to decriminalize THC is in a couple subcommittees. Write those members to move this into law. and

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz'(Utah) response: “I am opposed to legislative and legal efforts to reclassify or decriminalize the use of marijuana. Marijuana is a psychotropic drug classified under Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act as having “high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and a “lack of accepted safety for use of the drug…under medical supervision.”
    While certain aspects of these principles may be open to significant debate within segments of the medical community, and among pro-legalization/decriminalization groups, I am opposed to re-classification and decriminalization efforts. And while derivatives of marijuana are available in pill form for medicinal purposes, smoked marijuana is a health danger, not a cure, and therefore remains a harmful and dangerous drug for people of all ages.”

  10. You forgot to finish the stories title

    “Arizona: Governor Finally Agrees To Fully Implement State’s 2010 Voter-Approved Medical Cannabis Law” knowing full well the the recent Federal crackdown will quickly find its way to their great state of Arizona.

    Now thats more the truth; dont ya think Paul?

  11. Arizona is an extremely conservative state, but because of its close proximity to Mexico, the citizens (maybe not so much the state government) understand that regulation of marijuana is a much better alternative than cartels “regulating” the drug. I believe that as more states implement medical marijuana programs, they will begin to see how safe the drug really is and will favor full legalization. The irony is, however, that that may be precisely why the state governments often resist medical marijuana programs; they know that once citizens see that marijuana is relatively safe, they will demand change.

  12. I do not blame the governor for filing a lawsuit to delay the measure from being granted! The very fact he did this and the reasoning was to keep people from being prosecuted. The fact that he stopped pushing when the judge made a ruling says that he respects the judgement of the state and hopefully without going to far, hopes that the federal government will respect the states judgement. That is commendable! AND THIS JUDGEMENT WAS BY A FEDERAL JUDGE! Note how easily this could be used to defend someone if the federal government did intervene with the state program.

  13. I’ve been going through Arizona’s asset seizure and forfeiture laws under the color of law and seized my pickup truck and personal property worth around 15k for a mere possession charge of 1.9 grams being told my truck was being used to facilitate an ongoing enterprise to traffic dangerous narcotics….

    Being on SS Disability and only receiving payments of around a grand a month…i guess i have to just kiss my truck and property good bye.

    It’s not a “war on drugs” when the only casualties are people.

    This nonsense has to end

    welcome my son, welcome to the machine
    (Pink Floyd)

  14. America, land of the weak and the cowardice. Fuck anyone who even attempts to control me. I’m smoking cannabis RIGHT NOW in my home in Oklahoma. Come get me bitches! Whatever happened to freedom??? I guess nobody gives a fuck. America is for pathetic drones. What happened to us? I will shoot and kill anyone coming into my home without my permission. Try me. Time to light up!

  15. Why do they need to make a new law? All they need to do is charge the feds with armed robbery, and if they make an arrest slap kidnapping charges on them as well. It will only take a couple feds going to state prisons for 10 to 20 get the federal govermet to quit sticking thier noses were they dont belong

  16. In Arizona I was arrested, beaten, threatened, robbed and my wife was sexually assaulted by the Navajo County Sheriff’s Department. For marijuana possession of 3.9 grams. What happens off the books behind closed doors stays off the books behind closed doors. Laws or not, the pigs always remain in control in a police state…

  17. @Michael, that is because fascists keep trying to turn us into “Americon”. And they have been winning.

  18. Looking for advocacy support in Columbus Ohio. Seizure patient being held in jail in Franklin County for growing a small amount of medicinal grade cannabis in private home. Locked, sealed fully contained room, this kept seizures under control. Want to rally with signs on court date too. Need Help 420 supporters. Email response. Thanks

  19. Would Norml be willing to help Alabama learn about the great medical power of cannabis. I believe they are considering a vote on the medical use of cannabis but may need some education on the matter.

    [Paul Armentano responds: Medical cannabis legislation has been pre-filed for reintroduction in the 2012 state session in Alabama. Please continue to check the page for progress on this and other state legislative efforts.]

  20. i don’t think anyone should apply to open a dispensaries in az.
    They don’t want the money any ways, we can now take care of our own thx u

  21. Newt Gingrich just won South carolina primary. That means Romney is toas. He was 3-0, now he’s 1-2. Ron Paul is stalking the leaders like a classic race horse and will wear these 2 clowns down and beat them at the wire. The it will be on to debating Obama on drug laws.

  22. The only way to win is to keep writing and replacing the elected officials that blow you off and have their own agenda. Get involved! They will never “GIVE” you your rights; You have to fight for them. Get political and change the world that you live in!

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