Horne Swoggled 

The state's case against medical marijuana seems to be falling apart

The legal wrangling over Arizona's medical-marijuana law has been heating up, so I thought I would take a moment to scan the horizon for significant happenings, and to catch us all up to speed.

Two legal maneuvers in recent weeks have poured a bit more smoke into the legal air—or maybe they're smokescreens. Time will tell.

In the first week of August, the Department of Justice—a defendant in Gov. Jan Brewer's lawsuit that seeks to block the state's voter-approved medical-marijuana program—filed a brief that dismisses Brewer's claim that state employees and others implementing the law would be at risk of legal prosecution. The DOJ filing claims Brewer's lawsuit has no merit, because the state didn't show a credible threat of prosecution.

The feds asked that the case be dismissed.

In a response to the Department of Justice filing, the governor reiterated her fears of prosecution, based on what she called "the federal government's stated intention to vigorously prosecute even those persons who are operating in compliance with state law, and the raids undertaken in other states."

Regardless of the legalese and puffed-up posturing in the governor's response—including a reference to a "Damoclean sword hanging over the heads of the plaintiffs"—the case will likely be dismissed, just as similar lawsuits in other medical-marijuana-allowing states were, said Joe Yuhas, director of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, a defendant in Brewer's lawsuit.

"At the end of the day, the courts ruled the way we believe the courts will rule in Arizona," Yuhas said.

He seems to think things will move quickly from here on out. He hopes—but stops shy of saying he expects—that the state Department of Health Services will have a new medical-marijuana-system-implementation schedule in place by this fall, and the program up and running by January.

Good idea.


Fast-forward a week from the above wrangling, and you'll find that the state had poised a Damoclean sword of its own over the heads of four Phoenix clubs that help connect cannabis patients.

Claiming the state wanted a "softer approach" than immediate arrests, state Attorney General Tom Horne asked a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to stop the 2811 Club, the Arizona Compassion Association, Yoki A Ma' Club, the Arizona Compassion Club and club owner Michael R. Miller from providing spaces where registered patients can exchange marijuana.

The clubs are illegal, Horne claims, because the law does not allow anyone other than registered dispensaries or caregivers to distribute cannabis.

But the clubs' owners maintain that they aren't distributing anything; they are only providing a space for transactions between patients. For example, at the 2811 Club, all cannabis exchanges are handled by members of the Arizona Compassion Association, who donate their excess marijuana to the club. Patients get access to the space for an application fee of $25, plus $75 per visit.

Although Horne has claimed that the law doesn't allow for the clubs' existence, the law doesn't say they can't exist. Laws generally don't tell people what they can do; they tell people what they can't do. Unless the state can prove the clubs are distributing marijuana—which they don't seem to be—then I see this case eventually going away, too.

But I am not a judge.

Get thy sword off my neck, sayeth I to Mr. Horne.


So here's where I beg.

I will need your help as this column plays out in coming months. Although some columnists would have you believe that they magically pull things out of their asses every week unaided, they don't. They need sources and ideas and stimulation from readers at every turn. If you have an idea or a hint at a story or a tip or an ignorant complaint or a bitch or a moan or a rant, e-mail me.

I want to hear from you.

More by J.M. Smith

  • R.I.P., J.M.

    The hypocrisy of America's cannabis policy finally does our writer in
    • May 15, 2014
  • Donation Dilemmas

    When cannabis is illegal, reasonable people turn to Craigslist and shady disclaimers
    • May 8, 2014
  • The End Is Near

    Mr. Smith reflects on the life of his caretaker as he rages against the dying of the light
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Sonic Wave Rider

    Millions of YouTube views and this musician and instrument maker is still an Old Pueblo unknown
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Saving Sisley

    Phoenix MMJ scientist Sue Sisley needs PTSD patients for her study
    • Oct 26, 2017

The Range

Two Dozen Ways To Have Fun This Weekend!

The Education of Bill Gates

Laughing Stock: Chortling Chollas!

More »

Latest in Medical MJ

  • Irrational Immolation

    Financial relief for marijuana patients goes up in smoke as Republicans worry about the children
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • Practical Progress

    Lower fees may finally be on their way to Arizona’s medical marijuana patients
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • More »

© 2018 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation