Gov Brewer Decides to Sue to Overturn Medical Marijuana Law

Dec 14, 2011

Governor Jan Brewer decided today she will ask a federal judge to overturn the will of voters in creating a state medical marijuana law. 

Governor Brewer originally asked Judge Susan Bolton whether state employees can be prosecuted under federal law for processing permits to open marijuana dispensaries. Earlier this week Bolton told the state to pick a side: Either federal law trumps last year's initiative, or the state CAN implement its law. Now press aide Matthew Benson said the governor will argue that state health officials cannot legally license the dispensaries the initiative mandates.

"She does support the will of the voters," Benson said, "but she also has to look out for the well-being of her state employees. No state employee should be put in a position where they could face federal prosecution simply for doing their jobs."

Benson acknowledged Brewer has argued in court that Arizona can have its own immigration laws despite claims by the Obama administration these are preempted. But he said there is no contradiction.

"The governor has never claimed state law supersedes federal law," says Benson. "The argument has always been federal government, do your job, enforce the law. Enforce immigration law, enforce drug law. That is what this has always been about."

Brewer is not challenging the other part of the law which requires health workers to issue ID cards allowing those who have a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. But without the dispensaries, that means they will have to grow their own.