[Ibogaine] AZ plans to begin issuing licenses for pot dispensaries
DC from AZ
dcollier9 at q.com
Fri Jan 13 16:12:01 EST 2012
PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer has agreed to finally let the state issue licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries — but not immediately.
Brewer said today she will not pursue a lawsuit seeking a ruling of whether state employees who process those applications can be prosecuted under federal drug laws. A judge last month had thrown out that lawsuit but gave the governor a chance to fix the problems and refile it.
That, Brewer said, will not happen.
“I have directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to begin accepting and processing dispensary applications,” Brewer said. But Brewer said no license will actually be issued until a state judge rules on a separate lawsuit challenging the rules the health department enacted governing who can — and cannot — operate a dispensary.
That could take a while: An attorney who represents those challenging the rules has vowed to pursue the case. And whoever loses at the trial court is likely to appeal.
But Joe Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, said Friday’s action is still a victory for those who convinced voters in 2010 to approve a medical marijuana law.
That law allows those with certain specified medical conditions to get a recommendation from a doctor that they use marijuana. That recommendation entitles the person to obtain a card from the health department allowing them to obtain up to 2ƒ ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
So far the health department has issued nearly 18,000 such cards.
The law also envisioned about 125 state-regulated nonprofit dispensaries where those with the cards could get their drugs. But Brewer blocked state health officials from even accepting applications after Dennis Burke, who was the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, refused to provide assurances that state workers who process those forms would not be prosecuted under federal laws which make it a crime to facilitate someone else getting marijuana.
Brewer then filed suit in federal court asking Judge Susan Bolton to rule whether there was immunity.
Last month, though, Bolton tossed the lawsuit, saying the court was not in the business of issuing advisory opinions. She said there was no evidence anyone would be prosecuted, pointing out that no federal prosecutor in any state with a medical marijuana law had brought charges against any public employee for processing paperwork.
Bolton gave Brewer a chance to refile the case. But gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said that made no sense.
“At this point, from the governor’s perspective, we've kind of reached the end of the line in terms of legal remedies,” he said. Benson said it makes more sense to just let the law take effect as enacted by voters.
Brewer stressed, though, she would pull the plug “if I receive indication that state employees face prosecution due to their duties in administering this law.”
The remaining lawsuit was filed on behalf of some would-be dispensary operators who found the rules locked them out of the process.
One of those rules requires applicants to have been an Arizona resident for at least three years. Other restrictions include having filed a state income tax return for at least the last three years, and a prohibition against anyone who has filed for personal or corporate bankruptcy.
The rules also allow the state to deny a license to anyone who has an overdue fine, unpaid child support or is not current on a student loan.
Attorney Ty Taber said state Health Director Will Humble had no legal authority to impose those restrictions.
Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/state-and-regional/az-plans-to-begin-issuing-licenses-for-pot-dispensaries/article_f3e00632-3e13-11e1-ba29-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1jNJ3Mdft
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