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Attorney General Opinion I12-001 Re Preemption of the AMMA (Proposition 203)Pri

Attorney General Opinion I12-001 Re Preemption of the AMMA (Proposition 203)Pri

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Published by: ray stern on Aug 07, 2012
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August6,2012No.112-001(R12-008)
STATEOFARIZONAOFFICEOFTHEATTORNEYGENERAL
ATTORNEYGENERALOPINIONbyTHOMASC.HORNEATTORNEYGENERALRe:PreemptionoftheArizonaMedicalMarijuanaAct(Proposition203)To:TheHonorableJohnKavanaugh,StateRepresentativeSheilaPolk,YavapaiCountyAttorneyKenAngle,GrahamCountyAttorneyBradCarlyon,NavajoCountyAttorneyDaisyFlores,GilaCountyAttorneyBarbaraLaWall,PimaCountyAttorneyBillMontgomery,MaricopaCountyAttorneyEdRheinheimer,CochiseCountyAttorneyGeorgeSilva,SantaCruzCountyAttorneyJonR.Smith,YumaCountyAttorneyMattSmith,MohaveCountyAttorneyJamesP.Walsh,PinalCountyAttorneyMichaelWhiting,ApacheCountyAttorneyDerekRapier,GreenleeCountyAttorney
 
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2
QuestionPresented
ThefollowingquestionhasbeenpresentedtothisOfficebyamemberoftheLegislatureandthirteenofArizona'sfifteencountyattorneys:IstheArizonaMedicalMarijuanaAct("theAMMA")preemptedbythefederalControlledSubstancesAct("theCSA")?
SummaryAnswer
Yes,inpart.TheSupremacyClauseoftheUnitedStatesConstitutionprovidesthatfederallaw"shallbethesupremelawoftheland...anythingintheconstitutionorlawsofanystatetothecontrarynotwithstanding."U.S.Const.art.VI,
d.
2.Becauseoffederalprohibitions,thoseAMMAprovisionsandrelatedrulesthatauthorizeanycultivating,selling,anddispensingofmarijuanaarepreempted.However,theAMMAprovisionsandrelatedrulesthatpertaintotheissuanceofregistryidentificationcardsforpatientsandcaregiversarenotpreemptedbecausetheymerelyservetoidentifythoseindividualsforwhomthepossessionoruseofmarijuanahasbeendecriminalizedunderstatelawand,therefore,arenotauthorizationstoviolatefederallaw.
Background
TheAMMAwaspassednarrowlybyvotersin2010asProposition203.Thepurposeoftheproposition,asexplainedbytheArizonaLegislativeCouncil'sballotmeasureanalysisprovidedtoallvoters,wasto"allowa'qualifyingpatient'whohasa'debilitatingmedicalcondition'toobtainan'allowableamountofmarijuana'froma'nonprofitmedicalmarijuanadispensary'andtopossessandusethemarijuanatotreatoralleviatethedebilitatingmedicalconditionorsymptomsassociatedwiththecondition."Ariz.Sec'yofState,Ariz.BallotProp.Guide,Gen.Election-Nov.2,2010,at83(quotingAriz.Rev.Stat.("A.R.S.")§36-2801),
availableat
http://azsos.gov/electionl201O/info/PubPamphlet/english/prop203.pdf.Inorderto
 
3facilitateitsimplementation,theAMMArequiresthat"[t]heArizonaDepartmentofHealthServices["DHS"]...adoptandenforcearegulatorysystemforthedistributionofmarijuanaformedicaluse,includingasystemforapproving,renewingandrevokingtheregistrationofqualifyingpatients,designatedcaregivers,nonprofitdispensariesanddispensaryagents."
Id.;seealso
A.R.S.§36-2803.AftertheActtookeffect,DHSpromulgatedrulesrelatedtoitsimplementation.
See
Ariz.Admin.Code§§R9-17-101toR9-17-323(2011).FollowingtheAMMA'spassage,theStatebroughtquestionsrelatingtopreemptiontotwodifferentcourts.In
Arizona
v.
UnitedStates,
No.2:11-cv-01072-SRB(D.Ariz.2011),theStateexpressedconcernthatwhilethe"employeesandofficersoftheStateofArizonahaveamandatorydutytoimplement"theAMMA(subjecttoalegalactioninmandamus),stateofficials"riskprosecutionandpenaltiesunderfederalcriminalstatutesiftheyfaithfullycomplywithArizonalaw."
See
Compl.at15,~81.TheComplaintsoughtdeclaratoryreliefandaskedthefederalcourttodeterminewhethertheAMMAwaspreemptedbyfederallaworwhetherimplementationoftheAMMAwassubjecttoa"safeharbor"byvirtueofcertainactionsofthefederalgovernment.
Seegenerallyid.
Thedistrictcourtjudge,however,concludedthattheStatehadnotmet"theconstitutionalorprudentialcomponentsofripeness"anddismisseditscomplaint.Order,
Arizona
v.
UnitedStates,
No.2:11-cv-01072-SRBat10(D.Ariz.January4,2012).SimilarissueswereraisedinamandamusactionagainstDHSinSuperiorCourtforMaricopaCounty.
See
MinuteEntry,
CompassionFirstLLC
v.
State,
NoCV2011-011290at5(January17,2012).Inthatcasethesuperiorcourtjudgerecognized"theState'sdilemma"explainingthat"itiscaughtbetweentheproverbialrockandhardplace,betweentheAMMAandtheCSA."
Id.
Nevertheless,thecourtdeclinedto"determineissuesofpreemptionandfederalcriminalliability,"insteadconcludingthatthe"soleissuebefore[itwas]whetherthe

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