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Court rules on medical pot issues involving doctors, leases

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An Arizona appellate court ruled today on legal issues involving physicians and landlords embroiled in disputes involving medical marijuana.

One ruling by the Court of Appeals said a physician can’t be sued by a user who was dropped as a patient for acting against the doctor’s advice and getting certified to use medical marijuana.

The other ruling by a different three-judge panel said a trial judge was wrong to conclude that the lease of a would-be pot dispensary operator was void because marijuana hasn’t been generally legalized.

The rulings were the latest in a serious of disputes and questions since Arizona voters approved a ballot measure creating a medical marijuana program in 2010.

Other related Arizona rulings have centered on such topics as impaired driving, probation status, local regulations and possession on university campuses.

In the landlord case, the appellate court overturned a Navajo County Superior Court judge’s ruling that the lease for a Winslow property was void because of state and federal laws making marijuana illegal.

The Court of Appeals acknowledged that marijuana generally remains illegal, but it said “the purported illegality” of the lease rescinded by the property’s owner ignores that Arizona’s medical marijuana law set up a regulatory framework that includes dispensaries.

To void dispensary leases “because they involve lawful distribution of medical marijuana under state law could make (the Arizona medical marijuana law) futile and undermine the policy behind it,” Court of Appeals Judge Donn Kessler wrote.

In the physician case, a man who was dropped as a patient after getting certified as a medical marijuana user sued the doctor and his pain-management practice. The man’s suit sought damages and a court order requiring the doctor to continue treating him.

The suit cited the medical marijuana law’s provisions for equal treatment of medical care, but the Court of Appeals said the law doesn’t require a physician to provide medical care to a person certified to use medical marijuana or create a right to sue to enforce such a provision.

A patient can file a complaint against the doctor with the Arizona Medical Board if they believe a doctor acted unprofessionally, Judge Patricia Norris wrote in the ruling.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

One comment

  1. Except that it would hurt sales of opioid painkillers, alcohol, and tobacco — three pillars of our drug-crazy AZ culture, especially the one prevailing in the Phoenix metroplex — a general legalization of marijuana in AZ would in one stroke solve all these ridiculous, minute points of law, freeing our law enforcement and courts to do real work. But that would be too sensible for our Legislature. Perhaps one consequence of Ducey’s anti-initiative laws will be pro-legalization initiatives simpler and less self-serving (for the existing dispensaries) than the one on last November’s ballot. Can we then move on to deal with education, healthcare, regional development and employment, and environmental concerns? One hopes.

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