Pubdate: Sat, 04 Aug 2012
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2012 The Arizona Republic
Author: Mary K. Reinhart
Referenced: Sheriffs' letter to the governor on medical pot


Following in the footsteps of their top prosecutors, most of 
Arizona's county sheriffs are asking Gov. Jan Brewer to halt the 
state's medical-marijuana program.

Thirteen of the state's 15 sheriffs sent a letter to Brewer this week 
that's identical to the letter she received from 13 Arizona county 
attorneys days earlier.

Like the lawyers, the sheriffs argue that federal drug laws pre-empt 
Arizona's voter-approved medical-marijuana law and that state, county 
and local employees could risk prosecution if they implement it. 
Those signing the letter from Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher, 
who is president of the Arizona Sheriffs Association, include 
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

The letters come as the state Department of Health Services prepares 
for Tuesday's lottery to select 99 out of 486 applicants to run 
marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. The department will 
stream the lottery live online at

The letter also claims Arizona's newly appointed U.S. attorney John 
Leonardo "fully intends to prevent any dispensaries from operating in 
Arizona by seizing each and every one as it opens and commits 
violations of the (Controlled Substances Act)."

The same claim was made by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk in her 
July 24 letter to Brewer. A spokesman for Leonardo said the assertion 
by the county attorneys was inaccurate and that the U.S. Attorney's 
Office would - as Department of Justice policy says - focus on 
"significant drug traffickers, not seriously ill individuals and 
their caregivers who are in compliance with applicable state 
medical-marijuana statutes."

Brewer's office could not be reached for comment on the letter from 
the sheriffs. But in response to the similar letter from the county 
attorneys, the governor said that while she shares their concerns, 
she is required to implement the voter-approved law.

"Arizona voters ... cast ballots in sufficient numbers to enshrine 
this measure into Arizona law," Brewer wrote. "As such, I am 
duty-bound to implement (the act), and my agency will do so unless 
and until I am instructed otherwise by the courts or notified that 
state employees face imminent risk of prosecution due to their duties 
in administering this law."

Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez contributed to this article.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom