The governor’s lawyers now will argue that a part of the law dealing with authorizing medical marijuana dispensaries conflicts with a federal drug law and is pre-empted, Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said Wednesday.
Brewer is taking the new position two days after U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said during a hearing that the lawsuit, which asks whether federal law overrides the voter-approved state law, failed to take a position on that key issue.
The hearing was on a motion by supporters of the medical marijuana law to dismiss Brewer’s suit. The judge did not rule immediately on the motion, but she said Brewer’s case was incomplete if it didn’t take a position on pre-emption.
“It seems to be what Judge Bolton was seeking, and the governor will oblige,” Benson said.
Brewer previously had avoided taking a position on whether the medical marijuana law, which she opposed when it was before voters as a 2010 initiative measure, is pre-empted by federal law.
Benson disclosed the governor’s new position hours after Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced that he would argue that the state law is pre-empted.
Montgomery said the state needs a ruling on the pre-emption issue so it knows whether public employees could be prosecuted for implementing the law. Brewer has expressed similar concerns.
Montgomery said he’ll make an argument for pre-emption as part of his pending request to participate in the case.
Brewer’s administration has not implemented the dispensary part of the law but has issued thousands of qualified patient cards to individual marijuana users. Versions of those cards allow people to grow their own marijuana.