Medical marijuana in Arizona faces an important court decision in a case that local prohibitionists see as a weak link in the voter-approved 2010 pot law.
Arizona Republic reporter and rapid-fire Tweeter Yvonne Wingett-Sanchez has been filing live updates from the courtroom this afternoon. The hearing's over, but you can still check out her posts if you're interested in this case. Click here to read her updates.
We just read through her tweets and saw that Maricopa County Superior Judge Michael Gordon has made at least two statements that don't bode well for medical-marijuana advocates:
"Ultimate irony is that Arizona could have decriminalized pot and said it's not going to be prosecuted under state law."
"Maybe the lesson to be learned is voters ought not have been so directed in telling the state how to enforce its statutes."
Those quotes from the judge, as relayed by Wingett-Sanchez, seem to indicate that Gordon doubts that the law, as it's written now, can handle the challenges presented by anti-marijuana state officials Tom Horne, the state Attorney General, and Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney.
The two Republicans don't like what voters have done, and they're bent on demolishing it.
In August, Montgomery and Horne jumped into a lawsuit filed against the county by the White Mountain Health Center, a company that plans to open a medical-pot dispensary in Sun City. County officials denied the company any information about zoning rules, making it unable to comply with a state regulation that requires zoning rules to be listed in a dispensary's application. The two lawmen figure the case is the perfect opportunity to argue that the law itself is unconstitutional and should be nixed because, in their view, it authorizes the breaking of federal law.
Lawyers for White Mountain, including some with the American Civil Liberties Union, believe the law doesn't authorize anyone to break federal law, but decriminalizes the use and sale of pot for registered patients and dispensaries.
Gordon says he'll try to get a decision out in a timely manner.
Marijuana has become a hot topic in the western United States this election season: Washington, Oregon and Colorado voters will decide next month whether to legalize pot outright.
Ironically, as those states prepare for the possibility of legal marijuana for all, Arizona's right-wing prohibitionists still want to throw anyone in jail who dares possess a grain of marijuana -- even patients with multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.