Governor won't push for reclassification of medical marijuana

January 04, 2012

Governor Jan Brewer is refusing to take the steps taken by some other U.S. governors to address an issue raised by the state's medical marijuana program. But, one state lawmaker has his own idea how to deal with at least some of that refusal. The governors of Washington and Rhode Island have, like Brewer, refused to proceed with dispensaries, under their state's medical marijuana laws. But they've asked the federal government to reclassify marijuana, from a Schedule 1 drug, which is totally illegal, to a Schedule 2, which would allow it to be prescribed by doctors and sold at pharmacies. That would get around the state permitting process. Officials in both Vermont and Colorado have taken similar approaches. But, Brewer says she will not agree because she doesn't believe it would help.

JAN BREWER: By adopting a schedule on narcotics it’s not going to change the dispensary issue that I’m being faced with … Talk about apples and oranges here.  

DENNIS LAMBERT: Joe Yuhas, who represents the group that pushed the medical marijuana initiative last year, says that's not exactly true. He says supporters of the law would have preferred to write it to have the drug distributed at existing pharmacies, which are regulated by the state, rather than through a new system of dispensaries.

 JOE YUHAS: The only reason why the dispensary system exists is because under federal law  pharmacies cannot be utilized for distribution and to meet patient needs.

DENNIS LAMBERT: Yuhas says if pharmacies were an option, the initiative could be fixed, without going back to the ballot. In addition to refusing to process applications for dispensaries, Brewer is to asking a judge to rule that federal statutes trump any ability of Arizona to license dispensaries. But, first term Republican Representative John Fillmore, of Apache Junction, wants to try a different tactic. Fillmore wants to make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a petty offense under state law, punishable by a fine of not more than $500. 

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