Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Medical marijuana: Is the Arizona Bar Association obstructing justice?

The Arizona Bar Association recently announced that Arizona lawyers may not be able to assist would-be clients who have a legal problem related to the state’s new medical marijuana law.

Patricia Sallen, ethics counsel for the Arizona Bar Association, said that Arizona lawyers are not allowed to help clients break the law.

Since medical marijuana is now legal in Arizona and since the federal government said it would not prosecute marijuana cases in states where medical marijuana is legal, what’s the big deal? From the NY Daily News:

Federal drug agents won’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.

The big deal, according to Sallen, is that even though the new law allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation are allowed to buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 2 weeks, marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law.

Sallen said that [illegality of marijuana possession at the federal level] could keep attorneys from helping Arizona corporations set up a dispensary. And it also could mean no help going to court for any company that believes it was unfairly or unlawfully denied a dispensary license — or even for an individual who claims to be entitled to a medical marijuana card.

This disconnect between state and federal law could leave medical marijuana patients, caregivers, and business owners who want to dispense or grow medical marijuana in the lurch for legal assistance. Sallen says she is basing her preliminary opinion on a similar situation in the state of Maine. OK, that’s Maine’s opinion, but what about the 14 other states and the District of Columbia? They also have medical marijuana laws. What is their stance?

In my opinion, this is just another legal roadblock in Arizona’s medical marijuana saga. Arizona voters passed medical marijuana twice before, but the Arizona Legislature stopped implementation. This year, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall vehemently (and some say inappropriately) campaigned (1, 2) against medical marijuana before the 2010 election. After Prop 203 passed, she and her minons heavily lobbied the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the Tucson City Council for highly restrictive zoning laws. In the end, neither body adopted all of LaWall’s recommendations, but the county now has more restrictive zoning for dispensaries and growing operations than the city does.

So, let’s focus here– there are 4 different levels of laws governing medical marijuana– federal, state, county, and city– and citizens who want to benefit from this new industry and businesses that want to participate in its creation can’t hire a lawyer in Arizona? What sense does that make?

It only makes sense if you are part of the legal establishment that has benefited from prohibition and you want to set this industry up for failure– or at least inhibit growth– by denying legal counsel.

Given this paranoia by local legal officials, it’s no surprise that the state bar association has tossed out yet another barrier to progress.

UPDATE: Check out this link for the update on this story.

26 comments on “Medical marijuana: Is the Arizona Bar Association obstructing justice?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Medical marijuana: Is the Arizona Bar Association obstructing justice? - Tucson Progressive -- Topsy.com

  2. Terry
    December 4, 2010

    Curious, for an ethically challenged profession!


  3. Coda
    December 4, 2010

    I’m willing to bet there are plenty of attorneys who will help their clients. Sallen is not speaking for all members of the AZ ABA. Seriously, what are the chances that no attorney in AZ voted for 203? In a state that sent John McCain back to D.C., yet passed Medical Marijuana, clearly there are crossovers everywhere! If all the other states with Medical Marijuana laws have made it work, I’m sure AZ will, too.


  4. malcolmkyle
    December 4, 2010

    If you support prohibition then you are NOT a conservative.
    Conservative principles, quite clearly, ARE:

    1) Limited, locally controlled government.
    2) Individual liberty coupled with personal responsibility.
    3) Free enterprise.
    4) A strong national defense.
    5) Fiscal responsibility.

    Prohibition is actually an authoritarian War on the Constitution and all civic institutions of our great nation.

    It’s all about the market and cost/benefit analysis. Whether any particular drug is good, bad, or otherwise is irrelevant! As long as there is demand for any mind altering substance, there will be supply; the end! The only affect prohibiting it has is to drive the price up, increase the costs and profits, and where there is illegal profit to be made criminals and terrorists thrive.

    The cost of criminalizing citizens who are using substances no more harmful than similar things that are perfectly legal like alcohol and tobacco, is not only hypocritical and futile, but also simply not worth the incredible damage it does.

    Afghani farmers produce approx. 93% of the world’s opium which is then, mostly, refined into street heroin then smuggled throughout Eastern and Western Europe.

    Both the Taliban and the terrorists of al Qaeda derive their main income from the prohibition-inflated value of this very easily grown crop, which means that Prohibition is the “Goose that laid the golden egg” and the lifeblood of terrorists as well as drug cartels. Only those opposed, or willing to ignore this fact, want things the way they are.

    See: How opium profits the Taliban: http://tinyurl.com/37mr86k


    Click to access NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf

    Prohibition provides America’s sworn enemies with financial “aid” and tactical “comforts”. The Constitution of the United States of America defines treason as:
    “Article III / Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

    Support for prohibition is therefor an act of treason against the Constitution, and a dire threat to the nation’s civic institutions.

    The Founding Fathers were not social conservatives who believed that citizens should be subordinate to any particular narrow religious moral order. That is what the whole concept of unalienable individual rights means, and sumptuary laws, especially in the form of prohibition, were something they continually warned about.

    It is way past time for us all to wise up and help curtail the dangerous expansions of federal police powers, the encroachments on individual liberties, and the increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the unworkable and dangerous policy of drug prohibition.

    To support prohibition you have to be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

    * The US national debt has increased at an average rate of $3,000,000000 per day since 2006. http://www.usdebtclock.org/
    * The unemployment rate has increased by 7300 per day since 2008.
    * The loss of manufacturing jobs has been 1400 per day since 2006.
    * Without the legalized regulation of opium products Afghanistan will continue to be a bottomless pit in which to throw countless billions of tax dollars and wasted American lives.
    * The hopeless situation in Afghanistan is helping to destabilize it’s neighbor, Pakistan, which is a country with nuclear weapons.
    * The mayhem in Mexico has deteriorated so badly that it’s bordering on farcical.

    There is nothing conservative about prohibition, which enlists the most centralized state power in displacement of domestic and community roles. There is everything authoritarian and subversive about this policy which has incinerated American traditions such as Freedom and Federalism with its puritanical flames. Any person seeking to insure and not further compromise the safety of their family and of their neighbors must not only repudiate prohibition but help spearhead its abolition.

    We will always have adults who are too immature to responsibly deal with tobacco, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, meth, various prescription drugs, gambling and even food. Our answer to them should always be: “Get a Nanny, and stop turning the government into one for the rest of us!”


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  6. yayabrotherhood
    December 4, 2010

    Liberalism: Obeying the law only when it suits you.
    If you don’t like the federal law then CHANGE IT. Change it along with all the other abuses of the interstate commerce clause, like federal firearms laws, Dept of Ed, Social Security, etc. There are many federal laws, put into place by progressive like yourself, that has not Constitutional mandate, and should be handled at the state level.  Restore the US Constitution then you can make legal whatever substances you want at the state level; but that would require you to have integrity and be a conservative.
    Further evidence that progressive liberalism is a criminal activity.


    • leftfield
      December 4, 2010

      …that would require you to have integrity and be a conservative.

      Hahaha…  Proving that anytime you put the words “integrity” and “conservative” in a sentence together, hilarity ensues. 

      Thanks for the laugh, Yoyo.  Now go out and lobby for more cameras to catch speeders. 


    • Buzzby
      December 4, 2010

      “Liberalism: Obeying the law only when it suits you.”
      Are you referring to the Boston Tea Party?  Damned liberals! :lmao:


  7. sdgman
    December 4, 2010

    There is no such thing as “medical marijuana”… give them a placebo and tell them it’s dope and they will reap greater medical benefits.  It’s an excuse for stoners to get high.


    • Elizabeth
      December 4, 2010

       You sir, and incorrect. Medical marijuana can HELP not TREAT many things like cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorders, adhd, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, PMS symptoms, chronic pain, appetite
      loss, stress, anxiety, glaucoma, muscle spasticity from spinal cord injuries and
      multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches, depression, and seizures. BOOM.


    • bryan
      December 4, 2010

      And I am 100% sure you have never smoked marijuana. If you had, that silly comment would not have been posted.


    • leftfield
      December 4, 2010

      There is no such thing as “medical marijuana”…

      I think you’re confusing “medical marijuana” with “compassionate conservative”.  The first is reality, the latter a myth.


    • Trommy
      December 5, 2010

      You speak in complete ignorance and arrogance.  If you don’t know what you are talking about please don’t spread the lies.  It hurts those that benefit from this natural substance and gives a larger pool of madness to those who are against the truth.


      December 6, 2010

      You are narrow minded and misinformed you apparently have first hand knowledge of med marijane having no medicinal use, huh! you must give americans their GOD given right to be free and choose their own path. Wether it be doctors or medications.


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  18. vance_lane
    December 9, 2010

    you guys are stupid!


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This entry was posted on December 4, 2010 by in Arizona, Barbara LaWall, City Council, Drugs, medical marijuana, Politics, Tucson and tagged , .
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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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