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News (Media Awareness Project) - US AZ: College Ban On Medical Marijuana Could Lead To Lawsuit
Title:US AZ: College Ban On Medical Marijuana Could Lead To Lawsuit
Published On:2012-02-03
Source:Verde Independent (AZ)
Fetched On:2012-02-04 06:02:14
COLLEGE BAN ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA COULD LEAD TO LAWSUIT

PHOENIX -- A House panel voted Wednesday to ban medical marijuana use
and possession on college and university campuses, setting the stage
for a lawsuit.

The unanimous vote by members of the House Committee on Higher
Education came after Rep. Amanda Reeve, R-Phoenix, said the schools
fear loss of both direct federal aid and federally backed student
loans if they allow faculty and students to possess the drug.

That was backed by Kristen Boilini who lobbies for several community
colleges. She said the law will reinforce policies the schools already
have in place.

Joe Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association,
did not attend the hearing to testify against the bill. Yuhas told
Capitol Media Services he believes his opposition would be
meaningless.

"The Legislature is not friendly territory for us,' he said. Yuhas
said unless Reeve and supporters back off, his organization and others
involved in crafting the 2010 medical marijuana initiative will
instead make their arguments to a judge.

That initiative allows adults with a doctor's recommendation to
possess and use marijuana. There are some limits, with the drug not
allowed on public school campuses and use prohibited in public places.

HB 2349 would add the campuses of all public and private colleges and
universities to the list.

Yuhas said she cannot do that.

He said a 1998 constitutional amendment, approved after legislators
voided a 1996 medical marijuana law, specifically bars lawmakers from
altering any voter-approved initiative.

The only exception is when a change furthers the underlying purpose of
the original measure. Yuhas said denying marijuana to college students
who may need it does not fit that definition.

Reeve acknowledged later that she did not reach out to Yuhas or anyone
else to try to recraft the measure in a way to avoid litigation.

"I don't know what I would negotiate with them on,' she said. Reeve
said the federal laws requiring college campuses to be free of illegal
drugs or risk loss of federal dollars is "pretty clear cut about what
needs to be done.'

Reeve said she was hoping that eventual enactment of her bill would
not land the state in court fighting medical marijuana supporters.

"But they're going to do what they need to do,' she
said.

Yuhas said supporters of the medical marijuana law have not been shy
about going to court to protect the law as approved. That includes the
successful effort to fight a decision by Gov. Jan Brewer who had
refused to allow the health department to license dispensaries to sell
the drug.

There may be some changes to the proposal.

Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson, questioned why the law would affect private
colleges. He said it is up to those institutions to decide whether
they want to have anti-marijuana rules.

The legislation needs approval by the full House before going to the
Senate.
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