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Address: 9420 West Bell Road suite 108 Sun City, Arizona, 85351 Contact: 623-374-4141 Email: whitemountainhealthcenter@yahoo.com

First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens In Sun City, Arizona

Earlier this month, an Arizona court rejected Maricopa County’s effort to prevent a medical marijuana dispensary from opening up by denying it zoning documentation. In the wake of this decision, White Mountain Health Center opened its doors to become the first dispensary in Sun City, Arizona.

slide Does Federal Law Preempt Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Law? The White Mountain Health Center Case

 White Mountain Health Center, INC wanted to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City. Under Ariz. Admin. Code R9-17-101 to R9-17-323 (2012) Arizona has 126 Community Health Care Analysis Areas or CHAA and each CHAA can have only dispensary. To open the dispensary, an applicant must obtain a Registration Certificate and then the applicant must submit a zoning certificate to the Arizona Department of Health Services approving the proposed location of the dispensary. White Mountain Health Center could not get documentation from Maricopa County Zoning that the proposed site was appropriate, so it sued Maricopa County.

   Both Maricopa County and the State of Arizona replied to the lawsuit by claiming it could not issue the zoning approval because the Arizona medical marijuana law was preempted by federal drug laws. One of the main arguments both Maricopa County and the State of Arizona used was that it was “physically impossible” for Maricopa County to comply with the zoning requirement because by doing so, Maricopa County civil servants would be subject to federal prosecution for aiding and abetting. In other words, by doing their job under ARS 36-2801, state officials would be breaking federal law and subject to federal prosecution.

    Judge Gordon rejected all the defendant’s arguments:

The Court finds that the employees are not violating federal law. Their specific intent is to perform their administrative tasks. They have no interest in whether the dispensary opens, operates, succeeds, or fails. They are wholly unconnected to and separate from the person(s) or entity that will purportedly be completing the substantive offense.

In his ruling, Judge Gordon relied on the Ninth Circuit case Conant v. Walters, 309 F.3d 629 (9th Cir. 2002)(Conant v. Walters, 309 F.3d 629 .pdf) in which the federal government wanted to prosecute a doctor for recommending to a patient to possess marijuana under California’s medical marijuana law. The federal prosecutors argued that a doctor’s recommendation to that effect would be the federal crime of aiding and abetting. The Ninth Circuit Court rejected that argument and held there was no criminal liability.

Judge Gordon found in favor of White Mountain Health Center, INC and ordered Maricopa County to provide the necessary zoning documentation. But this is not the end of the matter as the issue is now up on appeal so stay tunned…

“Arizona Criminal Law & Sex Crimes Post.” Does Federal Law Preempt Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Law? The White Mountain Health Center Case :. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2015.