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News (Media Awareness Project) - US AZ: Column: Our Buddy Jan
Title:US AZ: Column: Our Buddy Jan
Published On:2012-01-26
Source:Tucson Weekly (AZ)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:02:37

Is It Possible That Brewer and Horne Are Actually Acting Wisely Regarding MMJ?

Now she's really gone and done it.

By "she," I mean Arizona's fine and esteemed Gov. Jan Brewer, and by
"it," I mean launched the state toward full implementation of the
voter-passed Medical Marijuana Act. Now that two judges--one federal,
one Superior Court--have scolded Gov. Jan into doing what we told her
to do more than a year ago, she has decided to start taking
applications from hopeful MMJ dispensary operators.

That might seem like a good thing to most people on the pot side of
the legal fence, but as I often try to do, I will help you fully
consider some of the possibilities.

It has always been interesting to me that Gov. Jan didn't block the
entire Arizona Medical Marijuana Act--she blocked part of it. She could
have just as easily and brazenly ordered the Department of Health
Services to put the entire law on hold, citing the risk of federal
prosecution of her beloved constituents. But she only blocked
dispensaries. Why? Let's speculate.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Gov. Jan is actually
smart, maybe even very smart, and that Attorney General Tom Horne is
likewise smart. I've voiced this suspicion before. Let's also assume
that they don't want federal agents gettin' all up in their shit all
the time, waving guns around and stealing all of Joe Arpaio's thunder
with flashy, carpet-bagger federal cop raids and operations and such.

A few months ago, after a question from a U.S. representative from
Colorado, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said his agency won't make
prosecution of MMJ facility operators a high priority in states with
highly regulated MMJ systems. Two of Arizona's MMJ neighbors--Colorado
and California--have been in the news in recent months because of
federal threats. Both have lots of rules concerning who can open MMJ
dispensaries and how to operate them. But neither state has the kind
of restriction Arizona does on the number of dispensaries.

In Colorado, where there are roughly 5 million people, there were more
than 700 dispensaries last fall, according to a count by The Denver
Post. Denver is a circus of MMJ sale and distribution. So is Los
Angeles, with about 10 million people and more than 500 dispensaries,
despite a supposed crackdown by the city, which hopes to limit the
number to fewer than 100.

In Arizona, where we have about 6.5 million people, the law will allow
just 125 dispensaries. That limit will surely help us avoid raids.

But how many dispensaries would the feds raid if we didn't have any?
Zero. It's possible that Gov. Jan was on to something, even if she
stumbled onto it in the dark on her way to slam shut the MMJ barn
door. Maybe she was protecting the MMJ community of the great state of
Arizona, whether she originally intended to or not. Federal raids hurt
people, and I choose to believe Jan Brewer and Tom Horne are actual
human beings, possibly even smart ones, and that they do care whether
people get arrested.

So maybe they were doing the right thing, even if their original
intent was to get all up in my shit and start hacking and slashing
away at agreements--written agreements--between my government and me.

In the end, I remain skeptical of the overall value of MMJ
dispensaries and urge extreme caution. Get out your maps,
dispensary-planners, and make sure you aren't selling and/or
distributing or causing to be sold or distributed any marijuana or
marijuana-infused substances in a way that will piss off the U.S.
Department of Justice--or Gov. Jan, for that matter.

Be intimately familiar with the law. Look it up. Read it carefully.
Follow it to the letter, where possible. Call people like Thomas Dean,
Arizona's experienced marijuana attorney (his words). He has
represented and advised many of the people at the forefront of
Arizona's MMJ fight.

And for God's sake, don't sell MMJ near any schools.
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