Up In Smoke

Arizona Court of Appeals burns through anti-MMJ lawsuit

Bill Montgomery is at it again. This time the wayward Maricopa County attorney is going after Arizona's medical marijuana program in the court of law.

The Arizona Court of Appeals decided last week that even though marijuana may still be illegal federally, that doesn't allow state officials to hinder citizens lawfully participating in the state's medical marijuana program.

The case came about when Montgomery ordered Maricopa County officials to deny a zoning request by White Mountain Health Center, a Sun City dispensary. He said that by granting the certification the county would violate federal law by participating in federally unlawful acts.

Montgomery claimed his stance was rooted in the belief that federal law supersedes state law. Turns out, it doesn't.

Let's give a hand to Judge Donn Kessler for shredding Montgomery's argument at every turn. Kessler's first point was that the Controlled Substances Act doesn't actually prohibit states from having their own independent drug laws.

According to Kessler, nothing in the Arizona law keeps the federal government from choosing to enforce the federal law, so there's no conflict.

Kessler also said that simply granting the zoning certification in no way constitutes aiding and abetting as Montgomery seems to understand it. Anything short of selling marijuana directly to patients is enough to absolve the county of that sin.

Finally, Kessler raised a point that the Department of Justice is also federally prohibited from using its funds to prosecute any of the states' medical marijuana programs, leaving the federal government toothless against marijuana.

Kudos, Kessler.

But that's not going to keep Montgomery from continuing his crusade. He says he intends to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Any other ruling would essentially be an admission by the state that it's violating federal law, which would put Arizona, as well as other states, in an awkward position.

We get it, Bill; you're worried about the children, God doesn't want us to smoke pot, and maybe some of those campaign propaganda lies actually stuck in your head. But what's the point?

Half of Maricopa County residents support marijuana legalization and nearly half of them voted for Prop 205. It's what your constituents want, at least the ones that are going to inherit this country.

Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states, now, with more coming through every election cycle. If the federal government were going to enforce prohibition, it probably would have done so by now.

Perhaps you're hoping to get out ahead of the new administration and get a smiley face sticker from incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but isn't it time to start looking forward and be a part of a more responsible, marijuana-induced society?

In the end, we really should be thanking you.

Not for carrying the torch of a failed, decades-long war on drugs, not for burning through taxpayer dollars on a pointless lawsuit faster than Willie Nelson burns through his morning joints, but for showing us all that marijuana has some legitimate standing in our legal system, which is a crucial step towards ending prohibition.

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