It’s a great day for MMJ in Arizona…and for the entire medical cannabis industry.
After a nine-month delay that threatened to completely derail the state’s budding medical marijuana industry, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has directed Department of Health Services officials to “begin accepting and processing dispensary applications and issuing licenses for those facilities” in the near future.
The move will clear the way for the sale of medical marijuana in Arizona, allowing dispensaries to set up shop and begin serving registered patients. It will also significantly strengthen the entire U.S. MMJ industry – which has been battered in recent months – and generate millions of dollars in new revenues.
The directive comes just days after a federal judge threw out a lawsuit seeking clarification on whether state workers could be prosecuted for licensing dispensaries. Brewer – who has publicly opposed the idea of medical marijuana – filed the lawsuit in May, when she also put the ice on the dispensary licensing program. As a result, no dispensaries operate in the state, even though tens of thousands of residents have cards allowing them to use medical pot.
Many MMJ observers felt that Brewer filed the lawsuit to sidestep the state’s medical cannabis laws and dismantle the industry. To them, the governor’s justification for the lawsuit sounded strange, as no state employee in any other region of the country with MMJ laws had ever been prosecuted.
The judge overseeing the case agreed, ruling that the lawsuit had no merit because the state did not prove the federal government ever threatened state employees. Still, the judge left the door open to more legal action, saying that Arizona could refile the lawsuit with more evidence backing up its concerns.
Brewer said she will not refile but defended her actions in a letter she sent to the acting U.S. attorney for Arizona.
“”It is well-known that I did not support passage of (the state’s medical cannabis laws), and I remain concerned about potential abuses of the law,” Brewer said in a press release. “But the State’s legal challenge was based on my legitimate concern that state employees may find themselves at risk of federal prosecution for their role in administering dispensary licenses under this law.”
Brewer, however, also stressed that one of her top priorities remains protecting Arizona government workers from prosecution. “Know this: I won’t hesitate to halt state involvement in the (medical marijuana program) if I receive indication that state employees face prosecution due to their duties in administering this law,” she said.