Arizona Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Cannabis Clubs


Photo: James King/Phoenix New Times
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says he’s “taking a softer approach” and “trying to be a good guy” by not just having the clubs raided and their employees arrested

​Attorney General Tom Horne of Arizona on Monday filed a civil action agains four medical cannabis clubs, trying to stop them from providing patients with marijuana under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. The cannabis clubs have sprung up to provide safe access to patients since dispensaries aren’t yet allowed to open in Arizona, pending a judge’s ruling.

The motion, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, names four clubs and one individual reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times: The 2811 Club, Arizona Compassion Association, Yoki A Ma’ Club, Arizona Compassion Club and Michael R. Miller.
Horne wants a judge’s ruling that the clubs aren’t legal. He also seeks an injunction to stop them from selling marijuana. He claims he’s “taking a softer approach” and “trying to be a good guy” by not just having the clubs raided and their employes arrested.

Dispensaries are permitted under Arizona’s voter-approved medical marijuana law, but they can’t open yet because state officials have put the shops on hold while Governor Jan Brewer’s federal lawsuit is sorted out, reports The Weed BlogAs a result, some 6,000 Arizonans have registered as medical marijuana patients, but have no dispensaries from which to get medicine.

Photo: The Weed Blog
AG Tom Horne: “(If) it was just a place for the patients to go and transfer marijuana for no fee, I suppose it wouldn’t be a problem”

​​​Lawyers for the U.S. government last week filed a motion to have that suit dismissed. Gov. Brewer’s lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment on the legality of dispensaries.
Under Proposition 203, approved by voters last November, patients can legally grow marijuana and share it with other patients as long as there are no dispensaries within 25 miles and “nothing of value” is exchanged. But Attorney General Horne claims the law does not protect cannabis clubs and cooperatives, specifically those which charge fees.
“The law permits one card holder to give marijuana to another card holder,” Horne said in a Monday press release. “But it does not permit the activities of these defendants, who charge fees to members. These private entities and individuals are in no way permitted to legally transfer marijuana to anybody.”
“The operators of these clubs claim that they are protected under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act when they are not registered as non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries as required under the law,” Horne claimed. “These people are marketing themselves as being able to lawfully transfer marijuana, and that type of deception and blatantly illegal activity must be stopped.”
The clubs charge qualified patients a token membership fee, which then allows patients to make donations and obtain marijuana “gifted” by other members of the collective.
“(If) it was just a place of rthe patients to go and transfer marijuana for no fee, I suppose it wouldn’t be a problem,” Horne said.
“I want the courts to weigh in and make a decision,” said Al Sobol of the 2811 Club, one of the shops named in the lawsuit, reports Stern at Phoenix New Times.
Horne’s suggestion that the 2811 Club was guilty of “deception” angered Sobol. “What’s deceptive is when the state gives you a card, charges you $150 for it, then makes it so you have no way of using it,” Sobol said.
“I see Mr. Horne saying there is nothing in the law that allows us to do this,” Sobol said. “I have to tell him there is nothing that says we can’t. Let him show us something.”
Attorney General Horne and Governor Brewer, in trying to stop implementation of a law the voters approved, are “abusing their authority,” Sobol said.
If the Maricopa County Superior Court judge agrees with the attorney general and shuts the clubs down, Horne said his office would probably set a deadline after which the clubs’ owners and employees would face arrest.