Governor Jan Brewer agreed today to drop her legal fight over medical marijuana dispensaries.
The 2010 voter-approved law allows those with a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. It also requireds the state to license about 125 dispensaries to sell the drug. But the governor blocked the Department of Health Services from even accepting applications after federal prosecutors refused to provide assurances that state workers who process the paperwork would not be charged with violating federal drug laws. She then asked a federal judge to rule whether state employees are immune. Last month the judge threw out the case, saying she was not in the business of issuing advisory opinions. Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said Brewer decided not to try again.
"At this point," said Benson, "the governor's decided to ask DHS to begin accepting and processing these dispensary applications. And once remaining legal challenges are worked out, settled, begin issuing the license themselves."
That could take awhile. Attorney Ty Taber who represents challengers, said the law approved by voters did not give the health department the power to say that you have to be an Arizona resident to run a dispensary or that you can never have had a bankruptcy.
"Every person," he said, "whether they live in Arizona or they come from outside of Arizona, whether they paid taxes here or somewhere else, has a right to come here and apply and be treated fairly based on their application."
A trial judge has yet to rule on that challenge.