Judge Orders Gov. Brewer to Implement Arizona Pot Dispensary Program, Nixes Licensing Restrictions

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Some people just don’t know when to quit. That seems to be the case with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, whose efforts to halt the state’s medical marijuana program and prevent pot shops from opening continue to come up short.

Brewer lost another key battle in her war against medical weed this week when a state judge ruled that she must begin implementing the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, saying the governor’s efforts to delay the plan are illegal.

In a double whammy, the judge also ordered the state to implement the act as is, rejecting a handful of restrictions Arizona planned to introduce on who can get dispensary permits. State officials wanted to restrict dispensary licenses to individuals who have been residents of Arizona for at least three years. It also wanted to bar applicants who have filed for bankruptcy, those who haven’t submitted personal income taxes in recent years and those who have been delinquent on child support, taxes, student loans or parking tickets.

The state judge struck those restrictions down, though he did allow several others that could prevent theft and selling out the back door.

It’s the latest setback for a governor who seems bent on preventing pot shops from opening in the state and circumventing the Medical Marijuana Act.

Brewer delayed the start of the licensing program for cannabis dispensaries last spring, citing her fear that state employees would be prosecuted by federal agents. She ordered the state to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government, asking for clarification on the issue.

The judge ultimately ended up throwing out the case, saying Arizona had not shown that there was a real risk to state employees.

Gov. Brewer responded by saying she planned to move forward with the dispensary licensing program – pending the outcome of several remaining legal challenges. MMJ supporters saw this as yet another delay tactic, saying the governor is grasping at straws as her efforts to stop the program crumble.

Gov. Brewer is certainly running out of options. This week’s court ruling could finally force her to move forward with MMJ.

However, she does have 30 days to appeal the decision. And the governor might do just that, much to the frustration of the medical pot community.

“She’s going to have to have an opportunity to review this decision and decide where to go from here,” said Matthew Benson, the governor’s press aide.