Lackluster Lawmaking

Surprisingly likely to no one, the Arizona Legislature is out to subvert the will of the voters again

Our esteemed state Legislature is hard at work up in Phoenix, collectively yea-ing and nay-ing its way through huge piles of legislation, some of which will surely make your life better and some of which will just piss you off.

To wit:

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a suggestion from a Phoenix valley 'stick to bring the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act before voters again. The resolution in the state House of Representatives, brought by a Republican, would not have required the governor's signature to pass. Thankfully the Teabilly attempt didn't get a hearing in committee, so it goes nowhere, at least until he or another of his ilk tries again. Politicians have a way of doing that, as evidenced by the 30-some attempts in Congress to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A Republican woman from Phoenix is apparently all in a huff over medical marijuana, as she introduced several Senate bills to tighten controls on the stuff.

Senate Bill 1440, which passed the Senate and is awaiting House action, would require labeling of cannabis as medicine and require the state Department of Health Services to revoke the license of any dispensary that violates the requirement. So far, so good. But the Good Senators added a bizarre amendment requiring cannabis packaging to be white and opaque and labels written in black ink on a white background. WTF? Seriously? There are no words to describe the inanity of that.

Senate Bill 1441 would allow —nay, require —law enforcement agencies to destroy cannabis seized from medical patients or caregivers even if an investigation reveals no wrongdoing. This one gets a WTF in its entirety. It's equivalent to a cop stopping you at a DUI checkpoint, then destroying your car, even if you pass a blood test. No thanks.

Senate Bill 1442 would ban possession or use of medical cannabis at child-care facilities, while Senate Bill 1443 would allow patients involved in research at colleges and universities to have and use medical cannabis—which is currently illegal on college campuses. A provision of the bill almost makes it a moot point, however. It lets the institutions' review boards require "applicable federal approvals," which could include the nefarious National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Drug Enforcement Administration, both of which have consistently denied approval for cannabis research. This one clears the deck for research, when the federal government finally gives up the fight to suppress cannabis science.

Another Republican is asking that the state allow counties to restrict cannabis growers, even though other agricultural crops are protected from such restrictions. Senate Bill 1098 is an attempt to prevent large-scale grow operations that could arise if caregivers combine efforts. God forbid we should have any pesky business-minded folks trying to create economies of scale to benefit patients.

So it seems that some Republicans are actually having a few good ideas up in the Valley of the 'Sticks, suggesting some things that make sense and might tighten the cannabis ship in good ways. But some of it is unadulterated bullshit. It never ceases to amaze me how Arizona's neoconservatives want the federal government off their backs, then proceed to get all up in their own constituents' shit with silly laws requiring white packages and seemingly unconstitutional destruction of property. You'd think I'd get used to it, after living here a couple of decades.

I hope I never do.

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