Arizona's Governor Will Implement Her State's Medical Marijuana Law

The Drug War Chronicle reports that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, whose federal lawsuit challenging her own state's medical marijuana law was dismissed two weeks ago, says she will not appeal that decision and plans to implement the law. In a statement (PDF) released last Friday, Brewer says:

It is well-known that I did not support passage of Proposition 203, and I remain concerned about potential abuses of the law. But the State's legal challenge was based on my legitimate concern that state employees may find themselves at risk of federal prosecution for their role in administering dispensary licenses under this law. Last week, to my great disappointment, the U.S. District Court of Arizona dismissed the State's lawsuit on procedural grounds and refused to provide clarity on the likely conflict between Proposition 203 and federal drug law.

Remember how we got to this point. The State of Arizona was fully implementing the provisions of Proposition 203 last spring. That's when Arizona was among a host of states that received letters from the U.S. Department of Justice threatening potential legal ramifications for any individual participating in a medical marijuana program, even in states where it had been legally approved. Specifically, the Arizona letter – dated May 2, 2011 – warned that "growing, distributing and possessing marijuana in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws that purport to permit such activities."

Would state employees at the Department of Health Services, charged with administering and licensing marijuana dispensaries, face federal prosecution? This was the basis for calling a "time out" in order for the State to seek a straightforward answer from the court. 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.

The Justice Department certainly deserves blame for muddying the waters with threatening letters affirming the federal government's authority to continue enforcing marijuana prohibition in states that allow medical use of the drug. To this day, it remains unclear whether Attorney General Eric Holder's repeated assurances that federal prosecutors would not focus their resources on medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with state law amount to anything in practice. At the same time, state employees have never been prosecuted for implementing a medical marijuana law, only one of the U.S. attorney letters mentioned them (and then only because Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire asked about their potential legal exposure), and Arizona's U.S. attorney specifically disclaimed any intent to prosecute dispensary regulators. That sort of action would unnecessarily escalate the conflict between state and federal officials over this issue, with damaging political repercussions for the Obama administration. And as the ACLU has shown, it is not at all clear what the legal grounds for such a prosecution would be. None of this guarantees it will never happen, but the possibility is remote enough that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton was correct to deem it a phantom menace for now. Other states, including Colorado, New Jersey, Delaware, and Vermont, have proceeded with plans for licensed dispensaries despite the federal threats. The fact that Brewer did not, despite her professed commitment to federalism, suggests she was motivated more by antipathy to her state's law rather than by concern for state employees.

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Oh, for the good old days when federal officials faced arrest for enforcing oppressive laws!

    Northern states sometimes locked up federal marshals who were chasing after fugitive slaves.

    What happened to states' rights?

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but I thought any mention of states' rights meant you were racist.
    Aaaaaauuuuuggggghhhhh!

  • shamalamadingdong||

    clearly racist. everybody knows that "state's rights" is just fascist code for "where da white womyn?"

  • Joe M||

    Other states, including Colorado, New Jersey, Delaware, and Vermont, have proceeded with plans for licensed dispensaries despite the federal threats. The fact that Brewer did not, despite her professed commitment to federalism, suggests she was motivated more by antipathy to her state's law rather than by concern for state employees.

    Of course. And I am frankly shocked she didn't pursue things further.

  • ||

    She's just tired of getting bitch slapped.

  • ||

    Better alt text: "So you hold a joint like this...."

  • dope||

    Change it Jacob!

  • ||

    "I'm crushing your skull!"

  • CE||

    Yikes. And I thought those "Alien lizard people are secretly replacing our politicians" stories my mom emails to me were made up....

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    OT: Where is there an Elizabeth Warren ad below this post? An Atlas Shrugged villain comes to life on reason's pages? Sheesh.

  • Tolly||

    Hey, Jan, you one-term, weak-kneed piece of shit...

    Instead of rolling over on your belly for the feds, why don't you direct the state and local police agencies under YOUR jurisdiction to clamp the fuck down the second any dickheads from the DEA come rolling in with a bunch of warrants and other legal harassment. Stonewall, deny and ostracize them from more unnecessary federal overreach into your state borders.

    What a thought - protecting the interests of the citizens of your state and the laws they enacted!

  • o3||

    "rolling over on your belly"?

  • wareagle||

    give me a break. She tried protecting the interests of her citizens, the ones being killed and robbed by illegals. Her reward was the feds suing and the usual suspects doing the usual whining. Having the feds in your shorts is not fun. Seems your bloviating would be better directed at the WH, DOJ, and assorted pinheads on the left who believe states' rights are bullshit.

  • Cytotoxic||

    She tried protecting the interests of her citizens, the ones being killed and robbed by illegals.

    Oh fuck off. Seriously, that shit doesn't fly here or anywhere else where the denizens have a clue. It's very simple: Brewer is an anti-MJ xenophobe. That's it.

  • shamalamadingdong||

    Cool, Jan is going to implement the law that the citizens of Arizona passed. How magnanomous of her.

    Now kick her ass to the curb where she belongs.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    She may have secretly thought her professed concern was bullshit, but it wasn't. Does it really seem beyond imagination that the feds would start going after state employees to stop local permissive laws from interfering with the national drug crusade?

  • ||

    Pretty much. There are much softer targets out there, and for drug warriors, the softer the target, the better.

  • ||

    Since the Feds don't have the resources to enforce their law without the co-operation of local and State authorities, it sure is.

    The issue has already been to the SCOTUS twice, and they weren't interested in hearing challenges to rulings that specifically addressed the issues in favor of State law. Most recent Governor Brewer's own lame assertion to that end was laughed out of Court by a Federal judge.

    City of Garden Grove v Felix Kha (2007)

    County of San Diego v San Diego NORML
    (2009)

  • admiral420||

    At least she's not Evan Mecham

  • Correction...||

    "I believe the best course of action now is to complete the implementation of Proposition 203 in accordance with the law."

    We thank you for your support, Leatherface.

  • ||

    She must have campaigned while wearing a paper bag over her head, no? Why did she have to go and expose herself? Why?

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    So we are shitting on her for doing the right thing?

    Isn't she still doing plenty of other stuff the wrong way? If too crackery for you, at least shit on her for her misdeeds.

  • BelowTheRim||

    It isn't doing the right thing if you wait as long as possible, try your best to not implement the law, and mislead the public about the rationale for your intentions to do so.

  • ||

    According to the U.S. Beer Institute, beer purchases have gone down by an average of 5 percent in states where medical marijuana laws have been passed. And a new study from the University of Colorado-Denver found that the 16 states that legalized medical marijuana saw an average 9 percent drop in traffic deaths since their medical marijuana laws took effect.

    "The University of Colorado-Denver study found that the increase in legal use of medical marijuana often leads to a reduction in alcohol consumption. In these states, the researchers theorize, some people are smoking marijuana rather than downing booze".

    Legalizing adult cannabis sales will prevent a great deal of violence, disease and death, and is something we SHOULD do!

  • ||

    Photoshop a doobie between the guv's fingers in the photo for a better visual to accompany the post.

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