Arizona Appeals Court Rules That State Law Trumps Federal Ban on Cannabis
by ireadculture | December 30, 2016
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled recently that local officials can’t use federal laws that outlaw or ban cannabis as a reason to withhold progress on zoning changes for medical cannabis dispensaries, according to the Arizona Daily Sun. Rulings from Judge Donn Kessler on the case stated that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery “had no legal basis to claim that federal law trumps the 2010 voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.”
The case stems back to the 2010 initiative, which gives patients the choice to apply to become registered with the state, and then can legally possess up to two-and-a-half ounces of cannabis every two weeks. For dispensaries, officials require that the businesses be properly zoned before opening, and one potential cannabis business, White Mountain Health, was looking to open up in Sun City. However, Montgomery told those officials not to respond to the request, claiming that the opening of their businesses would be a violation of federal law.
Judge Kessler’s ruling stated that he has many issues with Montgomery’s argument, especially when specifying that the Controlled Substances Act does not prevent states from creating and regulating their own drug laws.
“Arizona, like all other states, has the power to decriminalize certain acts and exempt certain actors for purposes of state law,” Kessler wrote in his statement. “The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not otherwise purport to shield anyone or any act from federal prosecution.” He also mentioned the 2015 federal provision that also keeps the U.S. Department of Justice from using funds to keep states like Arizona from making its own laws.