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State faces challenge on medical marijuana stance

A lawyer for prospective dispensary operators says Arizona likely will face a legal challenge over its refusal to accept applications.

Ryan Hurley says rejection of an attempt to submit an application Wednesday would set the stage to ask a court to order the state to accept applications.

The state was to have started accepting dispensary applications Wednesday, but the Department of Health Services says it has suspended that process.

The department’s announcement cites the state’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice, legal advice from the Attorney General’s Office and overall legal uncertainty about the legality of Arizona’s medical marijuana act.

Department spokeswoman Laura Oxley says the application period is mandated by the department’s own rules, not the voter-approved law.

The department continues to accept patient and caregiver applications.

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