Bill Montgomery Loses in Petition to AZ Supreme Court on Medical Marijuana, But Fight Still On

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has been shot down by the Arizona Supreme Court in his attempt to expedite a decision about Arizona's medical-marijuana law.

Today's decision by the state's highest court to reject Montgomery's petition represents a lost battle for the conservative lawman's crusade against the voter-approved law, but the war goes on.

Through the petition Montgomery filed in January, the county attorney was hoping to bypass a pending decision by the state Court of Appeals, which is still reviewing a trial court decision that upheld the 2010 law.

The case that appears destined to solidify or destroy the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act has to do with a would-be dispensary's fight against Maricopa County for zoning approval.

White Mountain Health Center sued in June after county officials refused to cooperate with the company over zoning information. The county's position stems from a 2011 decision by the county Board of Supervisors to fight the medical-pot shops based on advice from Montgomery, who hopes to derail voters' wishes based on his belief that the law is unconstitutional. In August, he and state Attorney General Tom Horne -- another Republican prohibitionist -- decided to use the White Mountain case as a wedge that could dislodge the medical-pot law.

But in December, Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon rejected the challenges by Horne and Montgomery, ruling that Arizona's law did not preempt a federal ban on marijuana. The feds can still enforce federal laws against marijuana, but state voters have chosen to conduct state enforcement differently, according to Gordon.

Montgomery appealed the case to the state Court of Appeals, then filed the petition to the state Supreme Court because he wanted a quicker decision.

Now, it turns out, he'll have to keep waiting.

Montgomery declined to comment on the rejected petition.

(Tip of the hat to political reporters Evan Wyloge and Gary Grado -- thanks for the tweets!)

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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.