Having grown up in Arizona, I can attest that the state didn't always have a reputation as a bubbling cauldron of right-wing lunacy. There were, and continue to be, plenty of fine folks there who would no sooner ask a brown-skinned person for his or her "papers" or join a border militia than they would attempt to make out with a saguaro cactus. In fact, Arizona recently legalized medical marijuana. And the state even went far enough as to set up an official state-run dispensary program--something Washington is too scared to do.
This week, one reader pointed out the Grand Canyon State's supremacy on the pot-shop front and suggested that Washington take a page from its playbook.
In a story about Spokane Police and DEA agents raiding more dispensaries, J. A. Burton writes:
In Arizona, our Medical Marijuana Program was ratified as a constitutional amendment, so patient's positions are much stronger. Our Governor also got a letter from a U.S. attorney, I would suppose similar to the one your Governor received. Ours blew a raspberry at it. Our law is very explicit (39 pages) and has clearly defined rules on how dispensaries will be allocated, what security procedures they must follow, the process for certifying the required Medical Director each must have, etc. The DEA may raid, but that won't stop our citizens from getting their medicine -- if there is no dispensary within 25 miles of a card-carrying patient, that patient is authorized to grow their own medicine (12 plants, 2.5 ounces of finished product every 2 weeks, provided they checked the box requesting to grow on their application, which all *should* do, and most have). Then they'll have to break down individual citizen's doors, which of course, the recent Supreme Court ruling gave them the right to do -- except they won't have access to the list of patients.
Can Washington citizens enact constitutional amendments via referendum? If so, I'd encourage them to use our law as a model and adapt it to your own desires, and get it on the ballot. Then it'd be much more difficult for the state government to mess with your law, and harder for the Feds to muck with you too, because really, the last thing the Obama administration wants right now is a Supreme Court case over states' rights.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer obviously has no problem "blowing a raspberry" at the federal government (see: AZ's immigration law), which may not get her invited to many White House cocktail parties, but it does impose the will of the people.
In Washington, Gov. Chris Gregoire seems to see federal boogeymen around every corner, and has been espousing the barely conceivable theory that if state workers oversee a medical-marijuana dispensary system, federal agents will storm into the state and start arresting people.
Burton's notion that AZ's thus-far-unchallenged dispensary program proves we could copy it is apt.
It seems clear that if the Obama administration were going to make an example out of a state that penned its own pot laws, it would be in Arizona, where most of the residents won't vote for him in 2012 anyway.