There has been controversy in Arizona as city and county officials attempted to rule that federal law trumps the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) that was approved by voters in 2010. But the Arizona Court of Appeals has officially ruled that federal law does not, in fact, trump the AMMA. The ruling affects Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery as he has continually attempted to get in the way of zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Montgomery’s claims were found to have no legal basis by Judge Donn Kessler, reports Arizona CapitolTimes. Judge Kessler did, however, agree that marijuana sales and possession remain illegal federally, but that does not trump the AMMA.
Also rejected was Montgomery’s attempt to say that county officials issuing zoning permits were “aiding and abetting in the violation of federal law.” Montgomery advised county officials to refrain from responding, arguing that it would make them guilty of violating a federal law.
The Controlled Substances Act does not prevent states from adopting their own laws regarding drugs, such as marijuana. Judge Kessler pointed out that the AMMA, as written, protects medical marijuana dispensary owners, and those associated with them from prosecution.
Judge Kessler wrote, “Arizona, like all other states, has the power to decriminalize certain acts and exempt certain actors for purpose of state law.” He also noted that Arizona has done nothing wrong, and has not broken any Federal statutes.
Judge Kessler also said, “The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not otherwise purport to shield anyone or any act from federal prosecution. To aid and abet, a person must associate himself with the venture and participate in it as in something that he wishes to bring about and seeks by his actions to make it succeed.”
Going one-step further, Judge Kessler noted that a 2015 provision of the Federal Appropriations Act directly prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from using funds to prevent Arizona from adopting its own laws regarding medical marijuana.