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ACLU files lawsuit challenging Arizona medical marijuana regulation

The Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Monday on behalf of the Welton family seeking a declaration that the marijuana derivative used to treat five-year-old Zander Welton's epilepsy is permissible under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) [materials] and, in addition, local prosecutors must stop pursuing charges against Zander's parents. The ACLU argues [press release] that because Zander's medical marijuana application was approved by the Arizona Department of Health [official website], the AMMA, passed by referendum [JURIST report] in November 2010, authorizes the use of "any mixture or preparation" made from the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and the Arizona courts held the AMMA to be constitutional, the Welton's should be permitted to medicate their son accordingly without fear of retribution. According to [press release] ACLU attorney Emma Andersson, "Zander's parents have been forced to put their son's medical progress at risk, all because County Attorney [WIlliam] Montgomery is prioritizing his ideological opposition to the voter-approved [AMMA] over patients' needs." The complaint lists [NYT report] Montgomery, Governor Jan Brewer, and Will Humble, the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, as defendants.

Marijuana [JURIST news archive] was a hot-button issue in several states in the November 2012 election [JURIST report]. In Washington voters approved an initiative [Initiative 502, PDF] to allow the possession and distribution of marijuana through a state-licensing system of marijuana growers, processors and stores, where adults can buy up to an ounce. The Colorado initiative [Amendment 64, PDF] actually introduces an amendment to the state constitution, allowing adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce and to privately grow up to six plants, although public use will be banned. In Oregon the Cannabis Tax Act Initiative [Measure 80, PDF] failed by approximately 55-to-45 percent [Examiner.com report] of the vote. Medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts for the first time as over 60 percent of voters approved Question 3 [Petition 11-11, PDF], an indirect initiated statute that will allow marijuana use by patients [Harvard Crimson report] with "debilitating medical conditions" and create 35 medical marijuana dispensaries. Conversely, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act was rejected by voters [AP report] in that state by approximately a 52-to-48 percent margin. The measure would have allowed doctors to issue a certificate to anyone with a "qualifying medical condition" to grow, process and use marijuana. Also on the ballot in Montana is a veto referendum regarding a 2011 revision [SB 423] of a 2004 law that established medical marijuana use in the state.

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