Back on June 2, I wrote that the lawsuits were “flying” as Governor Jan Brewer filed a federal lawsuit, ADHS Director Will Humble halted the dispensary application process, and dispensary advocates announced their own plans to sue. That was a bit of an overstatement, as only the Governor’s federal suit had been launched.
It took the dispensary advocates another couple of weeks, but two suits were filed on Tuesday, June 14. One suit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court against ADHS and Director Humble. The other was filed in the Arizona Court of Appeals, also against Director Humble. Both are “special actions” with special Arizona procedures, not your ordinary civil lawsuits.
Essentially, both suits are asking the courts to order Director Humble and ADHS to do the job voters tasked them with when they passed Proposition 203 – set up an application program and issue licensing certificates to non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries.
What this means for Arizona employers is that their workers may continue to be able to grow their own, or grow marijuana for others, for many months to come. Until the dispensaries are up and running, any Qualified Patient (QP) who asks will get an ADHS card permitting cultivation of up to 12 marijuana plants, by the QP or his or her Designated Caregiver (DC).
Proposition 203 set out a detailed control system designed both to give QPs ease of access to marijuana for medical use and to restrict access to recreational users. A limited number of dispensaries was the linchpin of the scheme.
The current state of affairs – no dispensaries but pot gardens in thousands of Arizona homes – appears to me to be much riskier for employers and all Arizona citizens than the law the voters adopted.