Judge Katherine Cooper in Maricopa County (yes, that Maricopa County) made the decision yesterday in response to two men filed a challenge to rules in the 2010 medical marijuana laws saying that patients could only grow their own if they lived more than 25 miles from a dispensary.
When the program first started, the two men were farther than 25 miles away from a dispensary so they started growing their own. But over time, Arizona dispensaries have popped up all over the state and now state officials say that most all of the 40,000 patients live within 25 miles of a retail medical cannabis store. The men challenged the laws so they could keep growing their own.
Their arguments were interesting, at one point bringing up a 2012 constitutional amendment passed in Arizona that says people can not be forced into health-care systems aimed at Obamacare in their defense.
“Dispensaries are not a ‘health-care system,’ the judge wrote in her ruling. She also noted that nobody is forcing them into the state’s medical cannabis program, either.
Interestingly, the judge did offer the men an alternative grounds for appeal. She said the men would possibly have grounds to argue that the 25 mile rule is a violation of their rights to ensure everyone has equal protection under the law.
Of course, this is Maricopa County. This judge could also be setting them up to rule that nobody has the right whatsoever to grow their own for all we know. Maricopa County is a terrible, twisted part of the world after all.
Arizona’s medical marijuana program has been under fire lately from several sides. Back in October, Maricopa County was also the ground zero for a decision that Arizona counties can’t zone medical cannabis shops out of existence. County officials had banned the shops based on their federal illegality. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has filed an appeal on that decision, however.
And just last week Arizona health officials publicly questioned the validity of nearly three-quarters of all medical marijuana patients in the state when they said claims of “chronic pain” were likely being exaggerated by the handful of doctors actually writing the recommendations. As we mentioned, they completely ignore the stigma that still surrounds writing medical cannabis recommendations for many physicians as well as the overwhelming number of people suffering from chronic pain in this country in general.