rizona will ask a federal court today to clarify whether its voter-approved medical-marijuana law conflicts with federal drug statutes, launching what probably will be a lengthy legal battle that could cripple the state's fledging industry and spark more legal action.
Gov. Jan Brewer also will put a temporary halt to the state's permit process for marijuana dispensaries, set to begin Wednesday, with an executive order issued by Tuesday, her office said. She does not plan to stop issuance of medical-marijuana user-ID cards.
The motion for declaratory judgment, to be filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, pits Brewer and two state agency directors against voters and patients who supported Proposition 203, as well as potential dispensary owners who could face federal prosecution.
It also names U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke as defendants, and will argue that their policies have spawned uncertainty and confusion.
Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne say the suit was prompted by a May 2 letter from Burke to state Health Director Will Humble, warning that prospective pot growers and sellers could be prosecuted under federal drug-trafficking laws.
Arizona and 15 other states have medical-marijuana laws that conflict with federal law, which outlaws the cultivation, sale or use of marijuana.
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