On January 13, 2012, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued a press release that said in part:

“I have directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to begin accepting and processing dispensary applications, and issuing licenses for those facilities once a pending legal challenge to the Department’s medical marijuana rules is resolved. . . . Know this: I won’t hesitate to halt State involvement in the AMMA if I receive indication that State employees face prosecution due to their duties in administering this law.”

In a January 13, 2012, blog post Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services Will Humble wrote:

“the Governor has asked us to implement the dispensary portion of the AZ Medical Marijuana Act.”

On January 25, 2012, Will Humble wrote:

“Our teams are busy dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s right now on an express rule package that would remove the dispensary selection criteria that was struck down last week (AZ residency, child support, previous bankruptcies etc.) and to set new dates to accept dispensary applications.”

On February 27, 2012, Will Humble wrote:

“Last week our team finished the revisions to the regulations by making adjustments to comply with the judge’s decision and to set a process for identifying a new timeline for accepting dispensary applications. We’ve shipped the revised rules to the Attorney General’s Office for final review. Once their review is complete, the AG’s office will file the final package with the Secretary of State- and the revised rules will become immediately effective.  I’ve heard that there’s a buzz in the community that we’re completely revamping the rules for dispensaries. This is not the case. We’ve simply made revisions to comply with the recent Superior Court Ruling. We’re still on track to be able to accept dispensary applications in April.”

The Court in  Compassion First, LLC vs. Arizona ruled that the ADHS rules must eliminate the following provisions from the Rules that prohibited ADHS from issuing a license for an Arizona medical marijuana dispensary if any principal officer or director of the applicant:

  • Was not an Arizona resident for at least three years immediately before filing for a dispensary license.
  • Had ever filed personal or corporate bankruptcy.
  • Did not file Arizona personal income tax returns for three years immediately before filing for a dispensary license;
  • Was not current on court-ordered child support.
  • Is delinquent in paying taxes, interest or penalties to the government or has an unpaid judgment to the government or is in default on a government issued student loan.

It is a simple matter to eliminate those provisions from the Rules and would have taken ADHS less than an hour.  The only other changes to the rules would be the dates for accepting dispensary applications and all the other dates in the dispensary licensing process.  ADHS determined these dates last year so all it has to do is pick a new dispensary application start date and the other dates would flow from that date.  In short, the time needed for ADHS to revise its Rules and for the Attorney General to approve the revised Rules is/was very short.  Why then has the Arizona Attorney General failed to approve the revised rules?

My guess is that the AG’s delay in issuing the final revised Rules is because Jan Brewer and Tom Horne are trying to come up with another excuse to kill medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona.  Governor Brewer now has concrete evidence to base her decision to shut down Arizona’s medical marijuana dispensaries for a second time.  The Delaware United States Attorney office sent a letter to Delaware Governor Jack Markell dated February 9, 2012, that said in part:

“[G]rowing, distributing and possessing marijuana, in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws permitting such activities . . . . Moreover, those who engage in financial transactions involving the proceeds of such activities may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes. . . . State employees who conduct activities mandated by the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act are not immune from liability under” the Controlled Substances Act

Here is Governor Markell’s February 12, 2012, statement on this issue:

“I am very disappointed by the change in policy at the federal department of justice, as it requires us to stop implementation of the compassion centers.  To do otherwise would put our state employees in legal jeopardy and I will not do that.   Unfortunately, this shift in the federal position will stand in the way of people in pain receiving  help.  Our law sought to provide that in a manner that was both highly regulated and safe.”

Given the Governor’s statement in her January 13, 2012, press release that she would not “hesitate to halt State involvement in the AMMA if I receive indication that State employees face prosecution due to their duties in administering this law” I am predicting that she will order ADHS to terminate the implementation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona for a second time.