Add another twist to the ongoing medical cannabis saga in Arizona.
On Wednesday, entrepreneurs hoping to start pot dispensaries in the state turned to a judge for help in galvanizing Arizona’s MMJ industry, which has been in a holding pattern for months.
Lawyers representing the cannabis advocates asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Richard Gama to force Gov. Jan Brewer to allow the launch of MMJ centers. Pot supporters argue that the governor’s duty is to implement laws passed by the people, even if she opposes them personally.
Last spring, Brewer blocked the start of the state’s dispensary licensing program, forbidding health department officials from issuing permits to MMCs. The governor cited memos the Obama administration sent out warning that medical marijuana is still illegal from a federal perspective, saying she fears state employees who issue licenses could face prosecution. She then filed a lawsuit against the federal government asking for clarification on the issue, leaving the MMJ industry in Arizona in limbo.
Arizona voters passed legislation in the fall of 2010 that legalizes the use of medical marijuana and allows 124 non-profit dispensaries to set up shop across the state. Ironically, the state is issuing cards to medical marijuana patients – about 16,400 so far – but not to the centers that are supposed to supply them with the drug.
It’s doubtful the issue will be resolved anytime soon, given the controversy surrounding it and the uncertain legal issues at play.