Timid Adventurers

Yet again, county and state officials are using fear-mongering to block dispensaries

"When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that is was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Attorney Generalissimo Tom Horne just reared his shiny pate again in one of the state's many medical-marijuana legal battles, this time asking a judge to dismiss a Maricopa County lawsuit because our MMJ law is illegal under federal law.

The case involves the White Mountain Health Center, a nonprofit that hopes to open a dispensary in Sun City. It also involves tilting at windmills and fear-mongering.

The crux of the case is this: Maricopa County has refused to address White Mountain's request for zoning approval. Under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, no dispensary can be within 500 feet of a school. Local jurisdictions can impose other restrictions; in Tucson, the list also includes churches and parks. The White Mountain operators claim the address is not within 500 feet of a school, the only requirement under state law or local ordinance. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery told White Mountain the county won't even consider any dispensary-zoning requests, because dispensaries are illegal under federal law.

Montgomery cites the now-familiar song and dance about our beloved county and state employees being threatened with prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act. "There is no safe harbor from prosecution," he wrote in a letter to White Mountain.

Horne's foray into White Mountain's lawsuit against the Department of Health Services was to ask the judge to throw the case out of court. The good generalissimo cites his belief that federal law pre-empts state law (in this one tiny, little case; not so where SB 1070 is concerned).

The county's refusal to address zoning—it hasn't rejected the request—is important, because the dispensary can't get state approval without a letter from the local jurisdiction stating that the dispensary is or isn't in compliance. So simply by not addressing the zoning, the county can block the dispensary, unless the Department of Health Services waives the requirement.

Apparently, in Arizona, there is no safe harbor from a paranoid ignorance of reality. Of course the dispensaries are illegal under federal law. It's illegal for me to get, have, roll, smoke and generally get relief from marijuana in any form, under any circumstances, anywhere. We all know this already. That doesn't mean the feds will swoop into state or county offices to round up employees.

Dearest Gen. Horne, since you work for me: Please stop all your silly fretting about state and county employees being arrested. Relax, man; it isn't going to happen. It's a paranoid fantasy. I suggest you talk to your therapist about unreasonable fears of federal prosecution. It's an unusual phobia, I will admit, but cognitive behavior therapy can work wonders in cases like this.

I also suggest you stop trying to cock-block grandma. My mom's peers in Sun City deserve their meds, so STFU, and get out of their way, or you might get smacked with a purse or an umbrella or worse. Those people vote, Tom. If you piss them off, you could lose your job.

So be brave, Gen. Horne. Grab the federal bully by the beard. I believe you will quickly see that the bully is a paper tiger, and that the beard is a fake, set in place to scare off the various cowering state attorneys general, one of whom was drummed out of court last December over basically this same issue. It shouldn't scare you, Gen. Horne, because it's only there to scare off the timid adventurers.

Oh, wait ...

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