Gov. Brewer Asks for Federal Clarification on Medical Marijuana

Wednesday, 27 Jul 2011 02:05 PM

By T.M. Golub

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Arizona’s recently passed Medical Marijuana Act has prompted GOP Gov. Jan Brewer to file suit asking a federal judge for clarification on potential prosecution, the website Reason.com has reported.
 
In light of the conflicting viewpoints coming out of the federal government, namely from President Barack Obama, who claimed that he would not commit federal assets to going after those in compliance with state laws on the issue, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a June 29 memo that state laws offer no cover for the use of medicinal marijuana, indicating prosecution is likely, the website reports.
 
Referring to this reversal and perhaps inspired as well, Brewer — not a supporter of the medical marijuana legislation to begin with, though very much an opponent of an over-reaching federal government — might be seen as trying to circumvent the will of Arizona voters who approved the referendum in November 2010 by asking if the legislation “complies with federal law.”
 
The Arizona governor cites a concern that state employees might be targeted by the federal government should the implementation and distribution of medicinal marijuana take place, despite the U.S. attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, saying he has “no intention of targeting or going after people who are implementing … state law,” the website notes.
 
The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to dismiss Brewer’s suit on the grounds that those tasked with making decisions on who may obtain the medical product does not run counter to the federal Controlled Substances Act. The argument being that simple licensure and regulating of medical marijuana dispensaries has nothing to do with the cultivation of marijuana and does meet the criteria for saddling someone with a felony.
 
Capitulating to federal pressure does not seem like something Brewer would fall victim to, but when it comes to the legal dispensing of medicinal marijuana in her state, the governor risks flouting the will of voters as well as her own self-avowed “new federalism.”

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