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Ariz. prosecutors withdraws med pot bill support

medical marijuanaAn Arizona prosecuting-attorneys association is withdrawing its support for a medical marijuana bill it helped craft and is aimed at protecting children from accidentally eating medical cannabis.

The Arizona Republic reports that the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council voted last week to no longer support Senate Bill 1440 because it conflicts with an argument prosecutors are making in a case before the Arizona Supreme Court. That case involves a Yuma County Superior Court judge who ordered the Sheriff’s Office to return marijuana seized from a California woman who had permission to use the drug for medical purposes.

In a “friend of the court” brief filed earlier this month, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk argued that because the state’s medical-marijuana law sets up a procedure for its cultivation, distribution and use, it is “in complete conflict with the federal law and regulations that govern the classification, production, distribution, marketing and use of drugs and medicine in the United States.”

The Senate proposal would require medical-marijuana products to be dispensed in white, opaque wrappers with black lettering in order to conceal medicine made to look like candy or sweet treats. It would expand current health department rules that require dispensaries to place a standard warning label on their products similar to those on cigarettes.

Lawyers say it’s difficult to keep legislating medical marijuana amid state legal challenges.

With the attorneys association’s move and growing opposition among lawmakers following calls by dispensary owners to block the measure, the bill is all but dead.

On Friday, the Regulated Dispensaries of Arizona Association issued a statement applauding the attorneys association for concluding “SB 1440 was a bad bill with a good intention.”

“It was horribly anti-business, forcing the termination of a state-regulated dispensary and the patients that depend upon it for a single infraction,” the statement said, adding that the group “will continue to be supportive of additional legislation so long as it isn’t an attempt to shut down the popular, important and voter-approved dispensary program.”

Dispensary owners have been trying to block the legislation, calling it a “backdoor attempt” to shut down the industry because of a clause that would revoke a dispensary’s license for a single infraction.

M. Ryan Hurley, an attorney for the Regulated Dispensaries of Arizona Association, said the industry favors establishing packaging rules to prevent medical marijuana from falling into children’s hands, but “the way the bill was drafted, it has nothing to do with those products specifically, and it doesn’t really deal with the problem they’re going after.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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