PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court won’t allow state and local officials to hide behind federal drug laws to throw roadblocks in the path of those who want to sell marijuana.
Without comment, the justices have refused to review, much less overturn, a Court of Appeals ruling rejecting arguments that federal law trumps the 2010 voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. The lower court said the fact that marijuana remains a felony under federal law does not preempt the state from deciding to decriminalize it for some.
That same ruling also specifically rebuffed contentions that having county officials issue the zoning permits required for dispensaries would mean they were illegally aiding and abetting in the violation of federal law.
In reaching that conclusion, the judges pointed out that nothing in Arizona law — or in their ruling — protects dispensary operators or even medical marijuana users from being pursued and prosecuted by federal authorities under federal law.
But attorney Steven White who represented the dispensary that argued the case, said that, for all intents and purposes, that can’t happen — at least not now.
He pointed out that a provision in the budget, first inserted in 2015, precludes the U.S. Department of Justice from using any of its funds to prosecute providers of medical marijuana if they are complying with state laws. That provision was just renewed.
That extension, however, runs only through Dec. 8, meaning Congress will need to vote again if they want to keep Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his staffers in check.
The decision by the Supreme Court drew a slap from Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery who had…
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