AZ court backs MMJ dispensaries; prohibitionists to appeal

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled this week that local officials cannot use federal laws prohibiting cannabis to justify their refusal to provide necessary zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries.

In their unanimous decision, the judges said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery had no legal basis to claim that federal law supersedes the medical marijuana law that Arizona voters passed by referendum in 2010, according to Capitol Media Services.

The judges also rejected Montgomery’s assertion that mandating county officials to issue zoning guidelines for dispensaries is tantamount to aiding and abetting a violation of federal law.

Judge Donn Kessler wrote in his opinion that nothing in the federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits states from having their own drug laws, and that people who live in states with legalized marijuana laws are immune from being prosecuted under Arizona law. State law does not preclude the federal government from enforcing its laws if it wants.

“Arizona, like all other states, has the power to decriminalize certain acts and exempt certain actors for purposes of state law,” Kessler wrote in his opinion, according to Capitol Media Services.

Montgomery says he’ll ask the Arizona Supreme Court to review the lower court’s ruling, according to the Associated Press.