Arizona U.S. Attorney indicates dispensaries, state employees would not be at risk

May 27, 2011 , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today, the Arizona Republic covered Gov. Jan Brewer’s outrageous, not-yet-filed lawsuit that calls the state’s voter-enacted medical marijuana law into question. Gov. Brewer alleged a major reason for the suit was fear that state employees could be in jeopardy. This claim was disingenuous given that Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke’s letter hadn’t mentioned state employees, and Brewer didn’t even bother to ask him if they would be at risk.

Apparently, reporter Mary K. Reinhart was more resourceful than Gov. Brewer. She spoke to U.S. Attorney Burke, who said “We have no intention of targeting or going after people who are implementing or who are in compliance with state law. But at the same time, they can’t be under the impression that they have immunity, amnesty or safe haven.” Burke also said they plan to focus drug enforcement on cartels and major trafficking, and that they have no intention to prosecute state employees.

This sounds like, in practice, the Arizona U.S. Attorney plans to abide by the 2009 Ogden memo that advises against targeting those in clear and unambiguous compliance with state laws, and by prior statements by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.

In practice, as MPP has reminded lawmakers, the federal government has not been targeting those dispensaries that are state-registered, complying with state law, and operating in states with clear regulations and registration requirements. There have been no raids on dispensaries or licensed producers in New Mexico, Colorado, or Maine.

We hope this marks the beginning of the end of the scare tactics from U.S. Attorneys. We also believe that any alleged violation of state law should be up to state — not federal — law enforcement officials and/or courts to consider.

Join in the campaign to ensure the federal government does not interfere with state medical marijuana laws by asking your representative in Congress to support three bills in Congress that would provide legal protection to those complying with state law.

20 responses to “Arizona U.S. Attorney indicates dispensaries, state employees would not be at risk”

  1. So are we still waiting for her to file? Or have they bowed to the 2009 Ogden memo for now sending the program forward?

  2. Governor Jan Brewer needs a four hour break and chill out and to rethink what she is doing. What is the best method to think, self-reflect, and come to a better decision and be happy with the outcome?

    There’s got to be something?

  3. WOOOHOOOO the ACLU has agreed to defend Arizonan’s against Jan Brewer and her facism. This is a TOTAL WIN! WIN WIN WINNING!!!

  4. All she’s doing is trying to keep her name in national news. I still think that if she’s for real, she should give back the moneys that it cost to register for the MM permit along with the cost of the physician along with any interest acrued during the time the money was in her possession but of course that’s not going to happen. Perhaps if everyone emailed or phoned her asking for it, it might create a stir. Maybe the ACLU could bring this up. SHE’S STEALING MONEY FROM AZ. CITIZENS!

  5. I live in Arizona. Two previous medical marijuana laws were passed, and both times, the state government used the excuse that the conflict with federal law nullified them. Governor Brewer is trying to use the same old trick again. I just sent her a letter telling her this is unacceptable. The twisted psychology around this issue is amazing. Some will stop at nothing to keep marijuana illegal and only accessible through the criminal black market. On the positive side for some, without dispensaries, card holders will be able to grow their own indefinitely.

  6. @yan. You sure about that? What if they flush the whole program? Im afraid to apply for my card quite yet until we figure out what’d going on I’d rather not be on their growers list ya know?

  7. Here’s a bit on Ms. Brewer from Wikipedia:

    “The Brewer administration has also been investigated by KPHO for hiring Chuck Coughlin and Paul Senseman, both lobbyists for Corrections Corporation of America, as a policy advisor and communications director.[39] Although Coughlin continues work as both a lobbyist and policy advisor, Senseman no longer does work for CCA. CCA operates six private, for-profit prisons in Arizona.[40] ”

    So Ms. Brewer is working to keep marijuana illegal and is at the same time hiring staff from a very large, for-profit prison corporation.

  8. Here’s the KPHO story, including a description of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign money from Corrections Corporation.
    So Ms. Brewer is working to keep marijuana illegal and is at the same time hiring staff from a very large, for-profit prison corporation and taking campaign money from them? The AZ campaign finance site is at but it’s not working for me; can anybody go in and see how much Ms. Brewer has taken from the prison industry? Is that really the government that we want… run by the prison companies?

  9. @ Karen, thank you. I hadn’t seen that. We’re headed in the right direction! I’m getting more confident this law suit will fizzle out eventually. Hopefully the state decides to stop issuing cards so patients don’t have to pay $300 total to get certified.

  10. Gov. Brewer is doing what she said she would do before 203 passed. She said she would try to have it overturned even if it does get passed, (which it did), because she thinks it’s a bad thing for Arizona, and she insisted that because it is contrary to federal law, it’s illegal.
    If only she would pull her head out into the light and open her eyes.

  11. Gov Brewer is a fool. The way the law is written if there are no dispensaries patients throughout the state will be able to mgrow their own indefinately. Further, it is possible that patients with cards would be able to sell medicine they grow to other card holders. All this would occur without any state regulation whatsoever. In effect Gov. Brewer’s suit would leave us with a “Wild West” situation where no one is regulated.

    I can’t figure out why Gov. Brewer is so adamant. She is term limited out of office in the next election cycle. Perhaps she has designs on Senator McCain’s seat or is it an attempt to help Attorney General Horne with the conservative base in a possible Gubernatorial bid? At best, the Governor is disingenuous with this suit. Political grandstanding at it’s finest and an utter waste of taxpayer dollars. The issue could have been resolved by simply having the Arizona Attorney General write to the US Attorney General for clarification.

  12. My fellow Arizonaans — Just because there won’t be any dispensaries for a while (there wasn’t going to be anyhow, since the lottery for licenses wasn’t going to be held until mid-August, and by the time inspections, etc., got completed it was going to be October or November), if you have your card, you may still possess up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks. Since our law says that if there is no dispensary within 25 miles of your residence, you may grow up to 12 plants at a time (following the legal guidelines if you wish to grow outdoors, no restrictions on indoors) *provided you checked the box on the application requesting permission to cultivate*. Having read the law, I knew there would be no dispensaries for some time, and so even though I live in the center of Tucson, I requested permission to cultivate in my application. My card was processed and approved in less than 8 hours (7 of which State offices were closed) and I received my card 4 days later, and it clearly indicates I have permission to cultivate. I’m a professional writer, and for the pieces I’ve been doing on our law, I double-checked with the Deputy Director of the program on a number of facts, including when plants turned into product, and plant material isn’t considered usable marijuana under the law until after drying/curing. Given the cost of dispensary marijuana, frankly, I’m delighted at being able to cultivate.

    I’ve heard several people complain about the application fee. Given how desperately in the red the State is, I think it only right that we pay the cost of setting up and staffing an entire new department within Health Services. If you’re low-income and on the SNAP program, the fee is cut in half. I’ve also heard people complaining about having to pay to get a doctor’s certification. You don’t have to go to a special doctor or one who advertises they provide certification. My primary care physician was more than happy to complete my certification form, since he’s hoping (as I am) that marijuana use will allow us to reduce my morphine dose, currently at 600 mg/day. If your PCP is anti-marijuana as medicine, change doctors and find one who’s actually read the facts. Every single one of my medical team, including psychiatrist, psychotherapist, orthopedist, neurologist, and gastroenterologist, amongst others, were pleased and excited that I would now have access to this medicine. You can change PCPs even if you’re an AHCCCS (our version of medicaid, for non-Arizonans who don’t know what it is) patient. Call around and ask until you find the right doctor for you.

  13. @RonPaul2012 – (Great handle, btw) Where are you getting a figure of $300 to be certified? I paid $150…

  14. @ Julie Anne. I’m talking the $150 to a Certifying Dr. I don’t have insurance or a PCP, but I make enough money not to qualify for SNAPS, I’m just a contractor who doesn’t get benefits. So I’d have to pay the $150 to a Doc, plus $150 to the state.

    Brings me to another question, do you have to re-apply every single year for $150? That would suck if you had to get re-certified from the Doctor and the State, costing $300 a year to be a patient…. Dumb. Maybe I have it wrong and its a one time thing? or Lasts more than a year.

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