Pages tagged "Arizona"
The Arizona Supreme Court overturned a law this week that made it a crime to drive with any detectable amount of an illegal drug in your blood, including medical cannabis. This is an important victory for patients in Arizona, and we hope, the beginning of a more rational national conversation about medical cannabis and driving while impaired. Patients are at risk when lawmakers ignore the science of medical cannabis use and criminalize those who are obeying state medical cannabis laws.
Regular medical cannabis users will almost always have metabolites for cannabis in their blood or urine. Metabolites are simple compounds that remain in the body after we digest and otherwise process food, drugs, or other substances. Cannabis use is usually detected in a blood or urine test by screening the sample for metabolites of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the active compounds in cannabis. These metabolites can remain in blood or urine for days to weeks depending on numerous factors. That means a regular medical cannabis user will test positive for metabolites long after he or she is potentially impaired to a degree that could affect driving.
Another State Appellate Court Holds That the Police Must Return Medical Marijuana That Was Seized from a Qualified Patient
As in California’s Garden Grove opinion and Oregon’s State v. Kama (Or. App. 2002), the court found that state law mandates the return of marijuana where it is shown that it is lawfully possessed under the state’s medical marijuana laws. Relying on these cases, the court held that federal law does not require a contrary outcome, since a federal immunity provision, 21 U.S.C. section 885(d), provides immunity to state and local police who lawfully administer state law relating to controlled substances. Thus, the immunity provision allows for harmony between state and federal laws. The Okun court went on to deny standing to the State of Arizona in arguing that federal law preempts state law.
Chalk up another victory to medical marijuana patients who have been harassed by the police.
- Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Protect Landlords of Compliant Medical Marijuana Businesses - ASA PR
- Michigan court rules localities cannot use federal law as an excuse for violating state laws protecting medical cannabis patients - The Detroit News
- Case on Benefits of Marijuana Heads to Court - Huffington Post
- LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl comes out at as a medical cannabis patient - LA Times
- Detailed Rules for Medical Marijuana Proposed in Maine - Kennebec Journal
- Pharmacy Shutdown Hoax Revealed - San Diego ASA
- Medical Marijuana Advocates Mourn Pot Club Closures with Mock Funeral - SF Weekly
- Arizona prosecutors urge Governor Jan Brewer to end the medical marijuana program, citing threats from federal prosecutors. The Governor declined to intervene - Arizona Republic
On Thursday, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced HR 6335 (text), the the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act. The bill would stop the seizure of property from landlords of state law-compliant medical marijuana businesses, and was introduced less than a month after US Attorney Melinda Haag began forfeiture proceedings against the landlords of Harborside, the well-known dispensary who's Oakland location is in Lee's district.
Facing Peril Unforeseeable Based on Prior Federal Rhetoric
Landlords in states with medical cannabis laws have every reason to believe and expect that when a business presents them with a legitimate business license issued by the state and/or local municipality, that such a business is not breaking any laws merely for existing. In fact, based upon President Obama's instance that he was no longer going after medical cannabis patients and that we no longer have a "war" on drugs, it's perfectly understandable that the average person would not think twice about leasing such a property to medical cannabis dispensary.
Not only do these landlords have every right to expect that these businesses are OK to lease to, the cost to the landlord to get such a property ready to lease to another customer can be quite expensive. Furthermore, in a time when commercial property owners have a hard enough time finding any tenants, these landlords have made business decisions based on the presumed reliable income that dispensary-tenants provide. When you consider that each crime study regarding dispensary neighborhoods indicates that these facilities are assets rather than liabilities to the community, the wisdom of the DOJ forfeitures is questionable at best.
US Attorneys Running Roughshod Over Justice
Speaking of US Attorneys and "questionable" legal thoughts, check out US Attorney Melinda Haag's bizarre and unhinged rational for issuing forfeiture proceedings against Harborside. If sheer size and number of retail sales for things within the Controlled Substances Act was sufficient basis for forfeiture at Harborside, why isn't every CVS, Rite Aide and Walgreens of similar size to Harborside being raided as well. Based on their size, something illegal must be afoot! (Maybe US Attorny Duffy will take up that charge...)
Civil asset forfeiture is a rather extreme government tactic which some have noted treads dangerously close to offending at least four US Constitutional Amendments, the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th. It forces property owners to prove their innocence rather than have the government prove guilt. Property owners have no right to an attorney or a jury trial in these proceedings. Many have said civil forfeiture should be done away with all together, but if it is to exist, the government must be judicious in its application.
Lee's HR 6335 Would End this Tactic Against Safe Access
Americans for Safe Access thanks Congresswoman Lee and the cosponsors of HR 6335 for protecting the property rights of land owners who rent to state-approved and law abiding medical cannabis dispensaries. Contact your Representative today and urge them to cosponsor this much-needed safe access legislation.
The use of the quotations around “recently” in the prior paragraph was deliberate to illustrate what happens when states refuse to include patient cultivation rights with their medical cannabis programs. Both DC and and New Jersey passed their medical cannabis laws about 2 years ago, and both places have been extremely slow to implement their medical cannabis programs. Progress with New Jersey program has been moving with all of the swiftness of a turtle walking sideways. In fact, the painfully slow implementation has caused at least one patient to sue the state for relief. Result: no safe access in New Jersey.
In DC, things have moved slightly quicker pace, but only in the sense that ketchup drips faster than molasses. Nearly 23 months since the DC Council passed its medical cannabis law (which was originally passed by DC voters in 1998 [or 173 months ago!]), cultivation centers were at long last officially awarded. Now DC patients must await for the District to approve the dispensary locations (which are facing NIMBY scrutiny by Councilmembers), establish the registry system for obtaining patient ID cards, and hope that the less than 600 plants permitted by the District program (6 locations, 95 plants each) can support the medical cannabis needs of community with 3% adult HIV infection. That’s over 15,000 potential patients from just one of the extremely narrow approved qualifying conditions. Add in DC's cancer, glaucoma, and MS populations, and one can easily predict that the DC dispensaries are going to resemble the completely bare shelves of a Soviet Union-era supermarket. Result: no safe access in DC.
The Delaware law? Their bill that lacked patient cultivation rights was nixed by executive order in February when Gov. Merkell caved under the pressure a US Attorney threat letter, mere months after he signed the law. Result: no safe access in Delaware.
Yet the state that approved medical cannabis during the same time frame as NJ, DC and DE that from the outside might appear to have the most tumultuous medical cannabis program is actually the one that is best serving patients. Those who qualify as patients in Arizona now have the right to grow their own medical cannabis, in spite of the several medical cannabis lawsuits brought forward by or against Governor Jan Brewer. The state even hosts a website that lets residents know who is eligible to cultivate. Result: Unlike patients in NJ, DC, and DE, Arizonan patients have legal access to medicine.
Patient cultivation rights are certainly not the only component of an ideal medical cannabis law, but without the right for patients to grow their own medicine, patients are forced to rely slow moving bureaucracies, or worse, the black market, to obtain the medicine they need.
“I have directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to begin accepting and processing dispensary applications, and issuing licenses for those facilities once a pending legal challenge to the Department's medical marijuana rules is resolved."
This is fantastic news, although any credit given to Brewer needs to be put in context. The AZ Governor has actively worked to prevent the program, and even qualified her encouraging statement above by saying, “[i]t is well-known that I did not support passage of Proposition 203.” With that in mind, it will be important to keep an eye on the response Brewer gets back from U.S. Attorney forArizona, Ann Birmingham Scheel, asking for federal government’s position on state employees regulating dispensaries. However, last week’s resounding dismissal of Brewer’s case should be indicative that regardless of Scheel’s response, the program must still move forward.
Medical cannabis dispensaries will finally be coming to Arizona. It’s still a question of when, but it looks like they’ll be arriving much sooner than anyone previously expected.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this entry stated that AZ would begin processing applications prior to completion of the state-level lawsuit. Applications will not be processed until completion of this lawsuit. Thank you to those who pointed out the error.
Proposition 203 and Arizona Medical Marijuana Act: http://www.azdhs.gov/prop203/
Pending Lawsuit: http://www.azdhs.gov/medicalmarijuana/documents/dispensaries/CompassionFirst-v-Arizona.pdf
Brewer’s lawsuit was technically filed under the guise of protecting state workers from federal prosecution, but in reality was a thinly veiled attempt to thwart the will of the majority of Arizona voters who passed the AMMA in 2010. In fact, the lawsuit bordered on the absurd, as it attempted to utilize 20 fictitious defendants as part of the basis for the case. However, Brewer’s refusal to fully implement AMMA has not stopped her from collecting nearly $3 million in fees from the approximately 19,000 Arizonans who have registered as patients. What’s more is Brewer’s own lawsuit admits that she, along with “employees and officers of the State of Arizona have a mandatory duty to implement and oversee the administration of the AMMA,” (emphasis added).
Not only does Americans for Safe Access agree with the Governor’s assertion that the Arizona government has a mandatory obligation to implement the AMMA, but on behalf of patients and caregivers, we demand the swift implementation of the program. For some Arizonans, yesterday’s victory came years, months, weeks, or perhaps even mere days too late. Now is the time for Governor Brewer to act so that no more patients in Arizona suffer needlessly as the expense of political posturing.
Ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton (contains the text quoted above from Brewer's lawsuit): http://www.scribd.com/doc/77175415/Mmj-Lawsuit-Dismissed
Arizona Medical Marijuana Act: http://www.azdhs.gov/medicalmarijuana/rules/index.htm#statutes