PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s medical marijuana law is constitutional and federal drug laws don’t stand in the way of public officials implementing it, a judge said Tuesday in a ruling that sets the stage for the opening of the state’s first pot dispensary.
“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 Michael Gordon of Maricopa County Superior Court.
The case started over a dispute over whether Maricopa County had to approve zoning for a dispensary in Sun City. It grew to include the larger legal question of whether federal drug laws pre-empt Arizona’s medical marijuana law.
Gordon ruled that the state law only provides a narrow allowance for use of marijuana for medical allowances under a tightly regulated state system, and as a result is not pre-empted by the federal law criminalizing marijuana sale and possession.
“No one can argue that the federal government’s ability to enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) is impaired to the slightest degree,” the judge said.
“It’s great news — unequivocal,” he said.