Legality of Medical Marijuana Clubs in Arizona Questioned by State Officials

The rise of medical-marijuana clubs in Arizona is giving state officials an anxiety attack.

Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, writes in his latest blog post that his agency has asked the state Attorney General's Office to check into whether the clubs can operate legally.

We've been telling you about these clubs for a few weeks now, and it's probably no coincidence that Humble's announcement comes on the same day New Times published a comprehensive article about medical marijuana that prominently mentions the clubs. Since Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne stalled the voter-approved dispensary industry, the compassion clubs have been filling the gap for qualified patients who want to obtain medicinal weed.

Humble writes: 


"The Arizona Department of Health Services has serious concerns about the legality of so-called cannabis clubs. The information that we have regarding these "clubs" suggests that they are distributing marijuana to customers in a way that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and the persons involved could be conducting illegal marijuana transactions. For this reason, we have referred this issue to the Arizona Attorney General's Office for review and analysis by its civil and criminal divisions."

Of course, Horne's the same Prop 203 critic who's helping Brewer thwart voters, so we're wary that his office's "analysis" might contain a heap of political bias.

Time will tell if the public will be allowed to inspect the requested analysis, if and when it's completed.

As we noted in this week's feature article, state officials refuse to release publicly their written analysis of the state's legal theories behind the move to reject dispensary applications.

This lack of transparency by our leaders doesn't inspire much confidence in the legitimacy of their decisions.

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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.

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