Arizona Medical Marijuana Program in Trouble: Brewer Halts Dispensary Permits While Seeking Federal Ruling on Legality -- **Update With Gov's Statement

Arizona leaders are preparing to ask to the feds to put a halt to Arizona's medical marijuana program.

UPDATE: Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says no dispensary permits will be issued until a federal court rules on the legality of the program. He's not sure how long that could take.

The Arizona Department of Health Services just put this on its Web site:

We understand that the Governor and the Attorney General are preparing to file a declaratory judgment in federal court regarding the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. When further information is available, ADHS will update you. Until then, the Department will continue to issue Qualifying Patient and Designated Caregiver Registry Cards on our website.

Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona Attorney General Horne held a news conference at 2 p.m. about this -- we weren't there, but we'll get an update to you as soon as possible.

The news comes a few weeks after U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke warned Arizonans in a letter to DHS that the voter-approved medical weed program, and nearly anyone engaged in it, violates federal law.

What we've heard, aside from the DHS announcement, is that Brewer and Horne liked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's new theory that no dispenaries should be allowed because the feds say anyone who helps distribute or cultivate medical marijuana is breaking the law. The federal injunction -- if it's issued based on the request for a judge's ruling -- apparently will take this idea statewide.

If the feds agree, the "billion-dollar industry" we've been telling you about will be on hold.

However, neither a federal injunction nor the halting of dispensary permits should affect the ability for qualified patients to obtain state approval to possess marijuana. State and local law enforcement would still be banned from prosecuting qualified patients.

That's not much of a silver lining to this potential black cloud, though, because it means most patients would have difficulty obtaining marijuana without dispensaries.

The sad part here is the rank hypocrisy of these politicians. They're perfectly willing to spend taxpayer dollars defending Arizona Senate Bill1070 from federal interference, but because they disagree with medical marijuana, the feds become their friends.

UPDATE: The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson just posted a bit of news about this, saying the news conference is still going on, but that Brewer wants the feds to rule on the legality of Arizona's program. An injunction could mean a delay to the state's planned issuing of marijuana-dispensary permits next month, the article says.

See below for Brewer's news release:

Brewer Pot Feds 1

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern