The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Arizona joined a lawsuit today that seeks to compel Maricopa County to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate as required under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.
In this case, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has refused to issue documentation required by the 2010 law indicating that the proposed dispensary location complies with local zoning ordinances. Montgomery has claimed the law is preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act.
“Maricopa County is attempting to thwart the will of the people. Voters approved this measure so patients who suffer from serious medical conditions can have safe and reliable access to their medicine,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “The regulation of drugs and medicine is traditionally a power exercised by the states, and the Constitution allows Arizona and the federal government to make different policy choices in these arenas.”
Edwards said Sun City’s White Mountain Health Center dispensary would fill a vital need for patients in the surrounding retirement community who are suffering from illnesses such as HIV, cancer, glaucoma, and agitation of Alzheimer’s disease and have not responded to other medication. Medical marijuana has been found to relieve symptoms such as pain, nausea and appetite loss.
“Marijuana is still largely criminalized in Arizona. However, Arizona has chosen, as is its right, to decriminalize and regulate the medicinal use of marijuana,” Edwards said. “Federal law does not prevent Arizona voters from decriminalizing conduct that remains criminal under federal law.”
A hearing where today’s court filing will be addressed is scheduled for October 19th.