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Arizona: Judge Overturns Maricopa County Zoning Law On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Superior Court judge has overturned Maricopa County, Arizona's zoning ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries, ruling that it was a "transparent attempt" to keep the shops out of unincorporated areas of the county.

Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon on Monday granted a pretrial verdict favoring White Mountain Health Center, which is planning to open a dispensary in Sun City, and rejected a similar request from the county, reports Paul Davenport of The Associated Press.

Judge Gordon said the Maricopa County ordinance was written to keep dispensaries out, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. He also noted there is no available property in Sun City with the zoning category required by the ordinance.

"This court will not rule that Arizona, having sided with the ever-growing minority of states and having limited it to medical use, has violated public policy," wrote Judge Gordon.

The county has the power to protect public health, safety and welfare through zoning, but Arizona's medical marijuana law doesn't allow it to use those powers to prohibit dispensaries, Judge Gordon said.

The version of the ordinance adopted in 2011 "suggests a transparent attempt to prevent the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act," the judge wrote.

Arizona: 25-Mile Law Restricting Homegrown Medical Marijuana Is Challenged


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An attorney representing Arizona's top health official says that a constitutional right to control your own health care does not mean that medical marijuana patients have the right to grow their own cannabis.

Attorney Gregory Falls, representing Arizona Health Director Will Humble, is asking Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper to throw out claims by two men that, as legally registered medical marijuana patients, they are constitutionally entitled to plant, grow and harvest their own supply, reports Howard Fischer ofCapitol Media Services in the Arizona Daily Star.

According to Falls, the fact that Arizona voters allowed those with a doctor's authorization to obtain and use cannabis does not mean patients can ignore other provisions of the medical marijuana law. The law approved by voters in 2010 says patients living within 25 miles of the nearest state-licensed dispensary have to buy their marijuana from the store.

The ability for nearly 40,000 Arizona medical marijuana patients statewide to legally grow their own hangs on the outcome of the battle. A decision against Humble would mean each of them has the right to grow up to 12 plants.

U.S.: Senator John McCain Says 'Maybe We Should Legalize' Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) may be changing his stance on marijuana legalization, judging by his remarks during a town hall event in Phoenix on Thursday.

"Maybe we should legalize," Sen. McCain said, tweeted Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller. "We're certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I respect the will of the people."

The senator's daughter, Meghan McCain, already came out in favor of cannabis legalization -- and admitted she'd smoked a joint -- in June 2012.

The main subject of McCain's town hall wasn't marijuana legalization. The senator was facing a tough crowd during the event while discussing American policy in Syria, with many in the crowd vocally opposed to military action, reports Paige Lavender at The Huffington Post.

Arizona: Ruling Stands; Sheriff Must Return Medical Marijuana To Patient


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Arizona Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court's ruling that the Yuma County sheriff must return cannabis seized from a woman with a California medical marijuana authorization honored by Arizona.

The justices, without comment, declined to review a January ruling by the Court of Appeals, reports The Associated Press.

According to the January ruling, medical marijuana seized from patient Valerie Okun must be given back to her.

That is because Arizona's medical marijuana law -- approved by voters in 2010 -- allows people with medicinal cannabis authorizations from other states to legally possess marijuana in Arizona.

The cannabis was found in Okun's vehicle at a Yuma checkpoint of the Border Patrol. Drug charges against her were dismissed after she produced a California medical marijuana authorization.

Prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to claim that federal marijuana laws invalidate Arizona's medical marijuana law.

(Photo: AzCapitolTimes)

Arizona: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Launched


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Arizona man has launched an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in the state.

Dennis Bohlke, 59, a north Phoenix computer programmer, is leading the Safer Arizona initiative, reports Yvonne Wingett Sanchez at The Republic. Bohlke said the measure is modeled after Colorado's newly enacted constitutional amendment, which taxes and regulates cannabis.

"The intent of the initiative is to legalize marijuana in Arizona and to treat it as we treat alcohol," Bohlke said.

The measure would amend Arizona's Constitution to allow people 18 and over (not 21 and over, as in Washington and Colorado) "to consume and possess limited amounts" of marijuana. The state would license grow facilities, retail marijuana stores and other related businesses.

The initiative needs 259,213 valid voter signatures by July 3, 2014, to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

There is no major financial backing to fund signature gathering, according to Bohlke; that has been the death knell for efforts in other states including, most recently, Oregon's Measure 80. He acknowledged it will be "challenging" to gather the necessary signatures to qualiy for the ballot without major funding.

Bolhlke said he had spoken with Republican, "Tea Party" and Democratic lawmakers about the measure, and while they won't openly support him, they seemed "very receptive" to his initiative.

Arizona: Marijuana Research Allowed At Universities... If Feds Approve

(Graphic: All Hat No Cattle)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Without comment, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into law a bill to allow possession of marijuana on college and university campuses for research. The measure, which takes effect later this year, was made necessary by a bill which Brewer signed last year, officially disallowing pot on campuses (yeah, good luck enforcing that one).

The bill Brewer signed on Tuesday, while leaving intact the ban on marijuana on college campuses, creates an exception for research approved by the FDA, the DEA or the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

And there's the bottleneck. Don't hold your breath, because the DEA never approves research requests, and the NIDA will only approve research designed from the outset to prove the bad effects of marijuana; no medical marijuana research is funded through that notoriously anti-pot agency.

Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, claimed the governor never intended to interfere with legitimate research when she signed the earlier bill, reports Howard Fischer at Capitol Media Services.

Arizona: Phoenix's First Licensed Marijuana Dispensary Opens

There is a truth that must be heard!By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The first licensed medical marijuana dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona has opened its doors, but couldn't serve any customers at its 4/20 grand opening on Saturday.

A computer server run by the Arizona Department of Health Services was down on Saturday, affecting all of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries, said Bloom Sky Train executive director Lezli Engelking, reports The Associated Press.

The dispensary has rescheduled its grand opening for Wednesday.

Bloom Sky Train is next to the Phoenix's new Sky Train Terminal and the 44th Street light rail station.

Arizona voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana by about 4,300 votes in 2010, authorizing its use for certain medical conditions with a doctor's authorization.

The state Department of Health Services administers Arizona's medical marijuana program, regulating dispensaries where patients and caregivers can legally buy cannabis. More than 35,000 Arizonans have medical marijuana cards.

Arizona: Medical Marijuana Policy Experts Host Phoenix Educational Event

There is a truth that must be heard!Arizona bills, federal legislation on the docket for discussion at trade association event

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) will host an Educational Series Event on Tuesday, March 26 in Uptown Phoenix. Geared to assist medical marijuana entrepreuners and investors create responsible and successful businesses, Educational Series Events feature a panel of experts and networking period for cannabusiness professionals.

Tuesday's 90-minute program will feature experts on state and federal marijuana policy who will discuss efforts to reform federal law as well as the ongoing efforts in the Arizona legislature to improve or quash the medical marijuana program.

The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period and networking reception.

What: NCIA Educational Series Event, "State and Federal Policy Update"

Where The Vig Uptown, 6015 N. 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ

When: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 7-10 p.m.

Who: Ryan Hurley, Rose Law Group, Phoenix, AZ (bio)

David Jones, Capitol Counsel, Washington, DC (bio)

Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association, Phoenix, AZ (bio)

Moderated by Betty Aldworth, National Cannabis Industry Association, Denver, CO

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