Strike Three: Arizona Medical Cannabis Opponents Whiff Again as Court Sides With MMJ

Another week, another loss for medical marijuana opponents in Arizona.

A Court of Appeals panel has squashed an attempt by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to prevent dispensaries from opening in the near future. Montgomery had asked the court to temporarily suspend a previous ruling that upheld Arizona’s medical marijuana laws and helped clear the way for dispensaries to launch statewide. He essentially was seeking legal justification to deny granting local zoning permits to dispensaries while his appeal of the previous ruling plays out.

The three-judge panel, however, rejected the request yesterday shortly after hearing oral arguments.

Montgomery is now 0-3 against the medical marijuana industry in the courtroom. Aside from yesterday’s ruling, Montgomery also lost the initial case in Maricopa County Superior Court and was then rebuffed when he asked that judge to suspend the decision. He’s now pretty much down to his last card – an appeal of the previous ruling – and could have to wait at least six months and possibly up to a year or longer for a decision.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 dispensaries are set to launch across Arizona and in Maricopa County over the next eight months.

“This was a tremendous victory for Arizona MMJ,” said Jeff Kaufman, the lead MMJ attorney in the case. He added that there is “absolutely no reason” for dispensaries with registration certificates to wait any longer to move forward.

The state in general has a poor legal track record against the medical marijuana industry. Gov. Jan Brewer lost several key court battles earlier this year as she tried to put the dispensary program on ice for good.