Federal Law Can’t Stop Marijuana Dispensary From Opening In Arizona, Judge Says

All I want for Christmas is — marijuana? For Christmas-shopping Arizona residents, a new store just opened in Tucson that’s getting quite a bit of attention.

The first marijuana dispensary is coming to town.

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, a Maricopa County judge has ruled that the feds can’t stop a medical marijuana dispensary from opening.

“This is a big court ruling for the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and the one on which would-be operators of dispensaries have been waiting.,” citesPhoenix New Times.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon allows dispensaries to open — and one already has, although marijuana will not actually be dispensed there until later this month. The ruling comes amidst the resounding approval of popular vote.

White Mountain Health Center, a planned medical marijuana dispensary, has been blocked by the county’s refusal to release zoning information required by the state. The center has now been given the go-ahead to open its doors.

The health center had been delayed largely due to the advice of County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who believed that the county should not release the zoning information to White Mountain. The Board of Supervisors supported Montgomery’s decision.

White Mountain sued, claiming that those who voted for legalized marijuana were being denied their right to medical marijuana use.

Montgomery them teamed up with state Attorney General Tom Horne’s office to argue the federal preemption angle, arguing that Arizona couldn’t possibly legalize or authorize the use of marijuana, because the federal government says marijuana is illegal.

The judge promptly rejected the argument, writing:

“… in the final analysis, the Court finds that federal law does not preempt the AMMA. In so doing, the Court notes that Arizona, if it had wished to do so, could have fully decriminalized the possession, use and sale of marijuana under State law. In its wisdom, Arizona took a far narrower and deliberative course opting to allow only the chronically ill access to it and only after a licensed physician certified that it might well relieve its citizens of suffering.”

While opposition may remain, dispensaries will open. Arizona Organix was the first dispensary to be approved by the state Department of Health Services. It will open on Thursday. A dispensary allegedly opened yesterday, reported by Fox News as the “first legal medical marijuana dispensary in Arizona.” Although patrons were able to enter and register at the doctors-office style dispensary, no marijuana will be released until later this month, reports say.