Tom Horne and Bill Montgomery Make Their Move to Nix Arizona's Medical Marijuana Law

See also: Bill Montgomery Declares War on Medical-Marijuana Law
See also: Tom Horne: Arizona Medical Marijuana Act Preempted by Federal Law
See also: Sheila Polk Misstates AZ U.S. Attorney's Position on Medical Marijuana
See also: Allan Sobol: Arizona's Medical-Pot Martyr?

Arizona's supposed reputation for fightin' the feds doesn't seem to apply to the will of the voters -- Attorney General Tom Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery held hands today to ask a court to declare the state's medical-marijuana law illegal.

Horne's position is that the state law is preempted by federal law in several aspects -- mostly in the growing and selling areas -- and Montgomery seemingly hates everything about the law.

"[Montgomery and Horne are] filing separate motions for summary judgment in Superior Court today seeking to resolve conflicting issues raised by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA)," their joint press release says. "Today's filings are the latest response to a lawsuit filed by White Mountain Health Center against Maricopa County and the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) and ask the Court to determine whether the AMMA is preempted by federal law prohibiting the possession, distribution and cultivation of marijuana."

They're not so much asking the court to decide whether the law is preempted by federal law as they are asking the court to decide that it is preempted.

According to Horne's previous request to butt in to the matter, he's doing this "for the purpose of seeking a declaration that the relief Plaintiff has sought is preempted by the laws of the United States."

As our colleague Ray Stern has previously reported on the White Mountain Health Center lawsuit:

The county, based on advice from County Attorney Bill Montgomery, decided to "opt out" of the state's medical-marijuana law and refuses to acknowledge White Mountain's request for zoning information. State rules require that a dispensary applicant submit some zoning info, so the company sued.

Last month, Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon issued an order suspending the state's rule on requiring zoning info. That made it seem as though Sun City would get a dispensary even though no zoning criteria exists in the county for dispensaries.

County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox told New Times that Gordon's ruling could result in the five-member Board of Supervisors reviewing their decision to opt out. But County Attorney Bill Montgomery says he believes the White Mountain case could be the "dam" that blocks up the whole pot program. Look for Montgomery to file a motion soon in that case based on Horne's opinion.
And that's exactly what's happening here.

"Since the relevant portions of the AMMA directly conflict with federal law, they are preempted and thus of no legal force or effect," Horne's motion says. "Operating the dispensary would violate public policy, as it would be a federal crime. This Court should so declare and enter a judgment dismissing the Plaintiff's claims as preempted by federal law."

If Montgomery's right about this case being the "dam" that blocks the law, then this case could decide the fate of medical-marijuana dispensaries in Arizona.

Horne's motion can be found here.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley