Filed: September 27, 2012
The ACLU of Arizona, with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, filed a brief in support of a medical marijuana dispensary that sought to service qualified patients in Sun City under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”), an initiative voted into law by Arizona citizens. We support White Mountain's fight against both the Arizona Attorney General and the Maricopa County Attorney who, rather than complying with the law, have subverted the will of Arizona citizens by refusing to provide this qualified dispensary with the relevant permits and certificates to provide much-needed and prescribed medical marijuana to patients in our state. The ACLU's brief addresses the specific issue of whether the Arizona government can shirk its obligations under Arizona law under a non-existent threat of federal prosecution. The trial court ruled in favor of our client, agreeing that the AMMA is not preempted by federal law, and that local governmental employees did not risk prosecution by federal agents for merely administering the AMMA pursuant to state law and regulation. The trial court ordered all defendants to comply with their duties under the AMMA. Maricopa County then appealed this ruling and filed an emergency motion to stay the trial court’s ruling. The trial court denied the motion to stay, and the county filed an emergency motion with the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held oral argument on December 20, 2012 and denied the county’s motion within a few hours. After holding the case to await decisions in related cases, the defendants’ appeal on the merits has been briefed and was argued in March 2016 in the Court of Appeals. We are waiting for a decision. Maricopa County also filed a Petition to Transfer the case to the Arizona Supreme Court, but the Arizona Supreme Court denied the petition.
Update: In December 2016, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s 2012 ruling that federal marijuana prohibition does not void Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act and that the County and State should therefore allow the White Mountain dispensary to continue operating and providing medicine to qualifying patients in Arizona with debilitating medical conditions.