Arizona Medical Marijuana Law Is Constitutional, County Judge Finds; Dispensaries On Way

Categories: Medical Weed

marijuana flowering.jpg
Maricopa County can't block a medical-marijuana dispensary from opening just because of a federal prohibition on marijuana, a county judge has ruled.

This is a big court ruling for the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and the one would-be operators of dispensaries have been waiting for.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon is a green light for dispensaries to open. It's also a resounding approval of voters' wishes.

See also: Arizona Organix Steps Out as the State's First Authorized Medical-Marijuana Dispensary

Read Gordon's ruling below.

The judge has ordered that Maricopa County must make allowances for the White Mountain Health Center, a planned Sun City medical-marijuana dispensary that had been stymied by the county's refusal to release zoning information required by the state.

Advised by County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a staunch social conservative, the Board of Supervisors agreed that the county should not release the zoning info to White Mountain, blocking the dispensary from moving ahead with its plans. White Mountain sued, declaring that voters were getting stiffed.

Montgomery teamed up with state Attorney General Tom Horne's office to argue the federal preemption angle -- that is, Arizona couldn't possibly legalize or authorize the use of marijuana, because the federal government says marijuana is illegal.

Gordon rejected that argument, writing:

... in the final analysis, the Court finds that federal law does not preempt the AMMA. In so doing, the Court notes that Arizona, if it had wished to do so, could have fully decriminalized the possession, use and sale of marijuana under State law. In its wisdom, Arizona took a far narrower and deliberative course opting to allow only the chronically ill access to it and only after a licensed physician certified that it might well relieve its citizens of suffering.


The reason the Arizona law's not unconstitutional, as Montgomery and Horne had maintained, is because the feds are free to enforce federal law if they choose to. Arizona hasn't preempted the federal government from doing anything, in other words.

Gordon goes even further on this point, saying that Arizona's system gives the feds a "roadmap" to enforcement, if the feds choose to close down or bust operations that sell marijuana. The dispensary locations will be easily identified.

Arizona's law might even assist the federal Controlled Substances Act in its goals, Gordon says:

Clearly, the mere State authorization of a very limited amount of federally proscribed conduct, under a tight regulatory scheme, provides no meaningful obstacle to federal enforcement. No one can argue that the federal government's ability to enforce the CSA is impaired to the slightest degree. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has been unequivocal on this point. See generally Gonzales v. Raich.

Instead of frustrating the CSA's purpose, it is sensible to argue that the AMMA furthers the CSA's objectives in combating drug abuse and the illegitimate trafficking of controlled substances.


The county and state may appeal, but in the meantime, the dispensaries will open. Arizona Organix, the first dispensary to be approved by the state Department of Health Services, is scheduled to open on Thursday. A dispensary in Tucson opened today.

Despite Gordon's invitation for federal enforcement, it seems the Obama Administration is unlikely to put a halt to Arizona's burgeoning medical-marijuana industry, judging by the flourishing industry in Colorado, which has a system similar to that of Arizona's. Meanwhile, raids of dispensaries in California, which doesn't have a state law authorizing the sale of marijuana at dispensaries, continue to occur.

The decision by the Arizona judge follows landmark elections for legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington. All the news about marijuana this year has only stoked Americans' interest in legalizing weed nationally, recent polls show.

Click here to read the decision in White Mountain vs. Maricopa County


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14 comments
hendog54901
hendog54901

This is total BULLSHET..the whole thing. Wake UP you elected morons. The Cannabis Hemp Plant is a NON TOXIC VEGETABLE..never in the history of mankind has ANYONE ever died because of it..you CANNOT overdose on it because it aint poisonous..like ASPRIN is! This is THEE most important plant that grows on this PLANET! We MUST DEMAND that this plant gets planted everywhere there is DIRT! You want CLEAN burning FUELS? HEMP! NO MORE NEED FOR FOSSIL FUELS..(oh ~oh) how about this plant for its FOOD & FIBER??? It is 2nd to NONE. We could end WORLD HUNGER in 2 years with just what we could grow in the USA! and lets not forget this NON TOXIC GIFT from GOD for its life saving MEDICINES...Think about it..to HELL with ANYONE who wants to put limits on a NON TOXIC VEGETABLE. Our Fore Fathers would kick you in the crotch for NOT GROWING IT! The money hungry murderers GREED must end.. (thats what they are..they would allow people to suffer and die useing their POISONS..while lieing about Cannabis..ROT IN HELL PIGS)

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Arizona Organix, the first dispensary in Phoenix opens this Thursday, Dec. 6

wanumba
wanumba

Hey Jan, hey Montgomery, hey sleazy adulterer/bad driver Horne.

SUCK IT!

Why did you waste millions of taxpayer dollars trying to take away what we voted for?

Why are only for state's rights when it comes to immigration?

Time to go the next step, legalize...it's coming, better get used to it.  Oh, and Jan?  Have another 10 shots of whiskey...because THAT isn't illegal!

irwr179
irwr179

The government has told you that CANNABIS is a "Scheduled" controlled substance. Schedule I, meaning little to no use (marinol?), strong potential for abuse/addiction, and danger to persons using it.The government actually holds patents for the medical use of the plant.Just check out US Patent 6630507 titled "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants" which is assigned to The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services.

We all need to ask our (representatives); what is going on???  The U.S. war on CANNABIS has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives - and for what?

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

The reality here is that medical pot has been allowed in 16 other states, for up to a decade.  The AZ brain trust (brain farts) isn't breaking any new ground.  They are simply wasting taxpayer money on nonsense!

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

So once again, we have a County Atty that keeps proving a lack of understanding of the law.

Can we disbar MontyPoodle too?  Who's his "Lisa"???

tromulus
tromulus

That sounds like a big F U to Monteyboy.  Why don't you stop your personal vendetta against the voters who do not want to be controlled by your kind?  You weren't elected King of Arizona we don't care what you don't like or for that matter what you do like.  We do care that you are not doing your job though which is upholding the law as voted on by the citizens of Arizona.

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt topcommenter

Tom Horne is a criminal that has been investigated by the FBI for campaign-law violations, and has  been busted for a hit-and-run accident.  Good to see that he lost in his bid to make ordinary citizens into criminals for using a drug that is safer than alcohol.

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

Mongomery is still brain washed from Westpoint...what a tard. He certainly took his seat as County Attorney after being elected...I repeat, what a tard. peace

cmiller2900
cmiller2900

With regulation finally; as a society we can make sense of what cannabis is and how to live with it for the good of all who need it.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Once again the "Small Govt" Cons lose in court. Now let them bitch about how state law shouldn't trump federal law??????????????

Thane.Eichenauer
Thane.Eichenauer

@shadeaux14 Is there anybody that claims that Bill Montgomery and company are advocates of small government?

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