In an extensive ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
Michael Gordon rejected arguments by Attorney General Tom Horne and
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery that the 2010 voter-approved
Arizona Medical Marijuana Act is illegal and contrary to public policy
because the possession and sale of marijuana remain a federal crime.
In his ruling, Gordon pointed out that 18 states and
the District of Columbia already have enacted laws permitting some form
of legal marijuana use. And the judge said he wasn't about to declare
Arizona's own version invalid.
"This court will not rule that Arizona, having sided
with the ever-growing minority of states and having limited it to
medical use, has violated public policy,'' he wrote.
Gordon acknowledged that Congress enacted the
Controlled Substances Act to combat drug abuse and to the control the
legitimate and illegitimate traffic of drugs. That law classifies
marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug for which there is no legitimate medical
And the judge agreed that the 2010 initiative
allowing the medical use of marijuana reflects "a very narrow but
different policy choice'' about the drug. But he said the fact that
Arizona has a different view of the drug does not illegally undermine
the federal law: Federal agents remain free to arrest Arizonans who
violate that federal statute.
"No one can argue that the federal government's
ability to enforce the Controlled Substances Act is impaired to the
slightest degree,'' Gordon wrote.
In fact, he said, what voters approved here actually
could be interpreted to support the goals of Congress in combating drug