Courthouse News: “The ACLU asked a federal judge to dismiss Gov. Jan Brewer’s lawsuit seeking declaratory judgment on whether the state’s voter-approved Medical Marijuana Act is pre-empted by federal law and should be struck down. The ACLU claims Arizona’s lawsuit should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or failure to state a claim because “state officials cannot use the federal courts as a vehicle either to validate, or to attack, their own laws.”
ACLU: “The American Civil Liberties Union today [May 27, 2011] agreed to represent the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association (AzMMA) in order to defend the constitutionality of Arizona’s medical marijuana law. . . . Three appellate decisions in California have previously rejected claims that California’s medical marijuana law is preempted by federal law. And earlier this month the Oregon Supreme Court backed away from its previous ruling that a part of Oregon’s medical marijuana law is preempted by federal law. ‘Contrary to the governor’s claims, the federal Controlled Substances Act includes an explicit provision permitting states to adopt their own drug laws,” said Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project’.”
ACLU Sends Letter to U.S. Attorney General Asking Feds to Backoff on State Legal Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
In a letter to the United States Attorney Eric Holder dated May 9, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Association (ACLU) expressed “deep concerns about recent threatening letters from several United States Attorneys from across the country regarding the potential initiation of federal prosecutions against persons who are complying with state medical marijuana laws.” The letter says in part:
“We further assume that the low priority status extends not only to patients, but also those who license and distribute medical marijuana in full compliance with state laws that are designed to protect public safety by ensuring an orderly and appropriately circumscribed distribution process for medical marijuana.
The recent U.S. Attorneys’ letters also reflect a policy of obstructionism in the face of the complex and evolving issue of medical marijuana, which nearly one-third of the states have now decriminalized in recognition of the unique and substantive benefit this drug provides to patients with certain serious conditions. The states to which the recent U.S. Attorneys’ letters have been directed have wisely recognized not only the needs of patients and the value of marijuana as a medicine, but also the need for a rational distribution scheme that channels this drug to humanitarian uses without contributing to a black market. As a policy matter, the same protections that extend to patients should also be extended to state-licensed distributors or state employees who are in clear compliance with state law. The laws of the affected states further recognize that it is not enough to permit patients to use the medicine; there must be a mechanism for growing and distributing medicine that provides a safe method of access. The state laws and detailed regulations implementing distribution promote both public health and public safety. The U.S. Attorneys’ implied threats of prosecution against those who are merely following state law are thus inconsistent with the administration’s announced intention to end the “war” on drugs and adopt a public health approach to drug policy.”