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County Attorney and Attorney General Seek Summary Judgment in Medical Marijuana Lawsuit

PHOENIX, AZ (August 23, 2012) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne are each filing separate motions for summary judgment in Superior Court today seeking to resolve conflicting issues raised by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). Today’s filings are the latest response to a lawsuit filed by White Mountain Health Center against Maricopa County and the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) and ask the Court to determine whether the AMMA is preempted by federal law prohibiting the possession, distribution and cultivation of marijuana. 

“It is the County’s position that the AMMA is in direct violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act and therefore cannot be implemented without exposing County employees to the risk of federal prosecution,” Montgomery said. “The AMMA also runs afoul of the Supremacy Clause enshrined in the U.S. Constitution by our Founding Fathers, which preempts state law that conflicts with federal law,” he added. 

Attorney General Tom Horne stated: “I was recently asked by 13 out of the 15 County Attorneys in Arizona to issue an Opinion on whether the AMMA is pre-empted by federal law. The two most recent cases, from California and Oregon, clearly hold that states may not authorize what federal law prohibits. These rulings stem from Article Six of the U.S. Constitution, which, in case of conflict gives supremacy to federal law. Therefore, state authorization for growing or selling marijuana is prohibited under federal law and we are therefore asking the court to dismiss the Plaintiff’s complaint.” 

On June 20, 2012 White Mountain Health Center sued Maricopa County and DHS after the County, on the advice of the County Attorney, declined to issue the necessary zoning permits that would allow the Center to operate a non-profit medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation site in Sun City. The case is being heard by Judge Michael D. Gordon.