Thirteen Arizona county attorneys are urging Gov. Jan Brewer to halt the state’s medical-marijuana program, saying state employees will be facilitating federal crimes when they issue licenses to pot dispensaries.
The lawyers signed onto a three-page July 24 letter authored by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who requests that the governor prevent the state’s issuance of licenses for medical-marijuana dispensaries because the state program is pre-empted by the federal Controlled Substances Act.
he latest round of correspondence over the controversial program comes as the state Department of Health Services prepares for an Aug. 7 lottery to select 99 out of 486 applicants to run medical-marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.
Under Arizona’s law, there is no limit to the amount of marijuana a dispensary can grow. Patients can obtain up to 21/2 ounces of medical pot every two weeks.
About 29,500 people have permission to smoke, eat or otherwise ingest medical marijuana to ease their ailments.
The overwhelming majority of medical-marijuana users reported chronic pain as their medical condition; other ailments include muscle spasms, hepatitis C, cancer and seizures.
State health officials declined to comment on Polk’s letter, which underscores their longtime concerns about the program.
In the past, state health officials have expressed concern they could be federally prosecuted for implementing the law.
In her letter, Polk pointed out that the federal government is seizing and closing medical-marijuana dispensaries in other states under the Controlled Substances Act.
Earlier this month, for example, Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, moved to shut down two locations of a dispensary with more than 100,000 medical-marijuana patients.
Polk wrote that she has been told Arizona’s newly appointed U.S. Attorney John Leonardo “fully intends to prevent any dispensaries from operating in Arizona by seizing each and every one as it opens and commits violations” of the federal act.