State Capitol News
2:34 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

State Court Gives Go-Ahead to Med Pot Dispensary

The state Court of Appeals this afternoon rejected Maricopa County's bid to delay a medical marijuana dispensary.

A trial judge already ruled that county officials cannot refuse to provide the certification necessary to show that a proposed dispensary has the proper zoning. This hearing was whether the county has to comply by Monday, as that judge ordered, or can get more time to have the whole question of the legality of dispensaries reviewed. Deputy County Attorney Tom Liddy told the court that employees who would provide the paperwork fear they could be prosecuted for helping someone violate federal laws that still make possession and sale of marijuana illegal.

"We have civil servants, career civil servants, working for Maricopa County who show up every day, work 9 to 5," Liddy said. "All they want to do is their job. And their job is to abide by all the laws of the state and the United States."

But Judge Michael Brown said following Liddy's logic would make someone who collects the dispensary's trash equally liable for facilitating the sale of marijuana. And Kelly Flood of the American Civil Liberties Union pointed out other states have had medical marijuana laws for years.

"In the time that such laws have been in operation in the various states in the nation there has been no prosecution of any state or state-level employee by the federal government for just complying with the state's laws," Flood said.

County officials gave no immediate indication whether they will seek Supreme Court review.