By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
Elected state officials busily working to defeat the will of their state’s own voters — it’s an unseemly spectacle, and it’s unfolding as we speak in Arizona. Making the entire scene even more ugly is the fact that seriously ill patients are needless suffering as a result.
Within weeks of Arizona voters approving medical marijuana in their state, the top law enforcement official in the state was devising ways to stymie the will of the people. Whack-job Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne discussed a plan to launch legal action agains the state’s medical marijuana law during a January meeting with the law’s biggest opponent, it has been revealed.
Carolyn Short, who led last year’s unsuccessful campaign to stop Proposition 203, which legalized medical marijuana in Arizona, refers to the meeting in a February 16 letter [PDF] to state Department of Health Services Director Will Humble, reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times:
On January 10, 2011, [former Arizona U.S. Attorney]Paul Charlton and I met with Attorney General Horne to discuss our conclusion that implementation of Prop 203 would subject you and other ADHS employees to federal prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”).
AG Horne suggested that he could file a declaratory judgment action, asking a court to determine whether the implementation of Arizona’s law would subject you and other ADHS employees to the risk of federal prosecution under the CSA.
Horne and Governor Jan Brewer put that idea into action last month, filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The suit asks the court to make a “declaratory judgment” on the legality of Arizona’s new law.
State officials claimed at the time that a letter to Humble by U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke prompted them to file the lawsuit. Though both Horne and Brewer openly opposed Prop 203 before voters approved it, Horne claimed to reporters last month that he and the Governor were taking a “neutral” (yeah, right) stance on the new law.
“Short’s letter lays rest to the notion of neutrality,” Stern reports in the New Times. “And it makes Burke’s May 2 letter, which merely reiterated that marijuana was against federal law, (okay, there was some new stuff about the potential risk to property owners, landlords and financiers), appear to be little more than political cover for Horne and Brewer to launch a pre-planned attack.”
Besides mentioning Horne’s idea for a federal lawsuit, Short’s letter lays the groundwork for the theory that state employees are at risk of being federally prosecuted for simply carrying out the wishes of Arizona’s voters.
Yet, according to New Times, U.S. Attorney Burke never threatened state employees in his own letter, and the idea that the Obama Administration would arrest state officials in Arizona (or in Washington, where Governor Christine Gregoire used an almost identical excuse to gut a law which would have legalized dispensaries there) is simply far-fetched — as in, it has never happened, anywhere, ever.
“Brewer and Horne could have let Burke and the DEA make the first move against Arizona voters, then defended the medical marijuana law as vigorously as they’re defending the immigration laws,” Stern writes. “Instead, the governor and AG appear to be working in concert with Proposition 203’s opponents to defeat the law by any means necessary.”
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.