Weekly Wrapup: Arizona’s Medical Pot Industry Gets Good News, Colorado Legalization Measure on Track

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What a great week for the medical pot industry. At least in Arizona, where a federal judge threw out a lawsuit that questioned the legality of the state’s voter-approved medical cannabis regulations. The decision clears the biggest hurdle for medical pot in Arizona. Gov. Jan Brewer used the lawsuit to halt the start of the dispensary licensing process, saying she worried that state employees could face federal prosecution for working on MMJ issues. The lawsuit put Arizona’s medical cannabis industry on ice, forcing would-be dispensary owners to remain in a holding pattern for months.

Now, however, she has little to fall back on, and it will be difficult for her to continue blocking the licensing program.

So we could see dispensaries in Arizona sometime this year, which would offset the contraction in other MMJ states.

Speaking of contraction, these aren’t the best of times for Montana’s medical pot industry. Dozens of dispensaries closed last year amid a larger crackdown, as we reported in this story, and the outlook isn’t too bright for 2012. The same scene is playing out in Michigan, where the state has been coming down hard on the medical pot industry. Pot advocates there have their backs against the wall and are now pushing for full legalization of cannabis to cut law enforcement out of the picture.

On that note, the industry should pay particularly close attention to Colorado this year. Last week, a pro-cannabis group submitted nearly double the number of signatures needed to get a measure on the ballot calling for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. Organizers behind the initiative have a ton of momentum, and Colorado could very well be the first state in the nation to legalize pot.

Other top stories from last week:

Column: The problem with ‘Weed Wars’

Maryland group fails to reach consensus

5 important questions for 2012