Pubdate: Fri, 07 Jun 2013
Source: Verde Independent (AZ)
Copyright: 2013 Western News & Info, Inc
Author: Howard Fischer


PHOENIX -- The state's more than 38,000 medical marijuana users are 
in no danger of losing their medication, at least not at the ballot box.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said Wednesday he cannot drum 
up enough support among legislative colleagues for his bid to ask 
voters next year to rescind Arizona's 2010 Medical Marijuana Act. 
That not only kills the plan for this year but also makes it unlikely 
to be resurrected next year.

The problem, Kavanagh said, is political.

"The majority of the members oppose medical marijuana,' he told 
Capitol Media Services.

"But there are a lot of people who have expressed concern that that 
(ballot measure) would bring out people who would not vote Republican 
in the November election,' Kavanagh said. And he said some GOP 
lawmakers feel that could result in Democrats picking up strength in 
the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Kavanagh was clearly miffed at the injection of politics into what he 
sees as a public health and safety matter.

"I think that is a cold, calculating and, from a policy perspective, 
poor criteria for supporting something,' he said. "But that's the 
political reality.'

The 2010 law allows those with a doctor's recommendation to get a 
state-issued card allowing them to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of 
marijuana every two weeks from a state-licensed dispensary. The most 
recent report from the state Department of Health Services showed 
38,506 cardholders as of April 16.

Kavanagh, a former police officer, called it bad public policy to 
allow voters and not the Food and Drug Administration to decide what 
is medicine.

He also pointed out that the measure was approved by a narrow margin 
- -- just 4,340 votes out of more than 1.6 million votes cast. Kavanagh 
argued the results would have been different had foes had the time 
and finances to mount a proper campaign -- the kind of campaign he 
was trying to engineer for 2014.

Kavanagh said there is one way of killing the Arizona law: Have the 
federal government enforce the Controlled Substances Act which makes 
the possession and sale of marijuana a federal felony.

So far, though, the position of the U.S. Department of Justice is 
that going after medical marijuana users where that is legal under 
state law is not a high priority given the government's limited 
resources. Kavanagh sniffed at that excuse.

"One raid on one clinic and Phoenix would shut the whole operation 
down, especially if they seized the building from the owner,' he 
said. But Kavanagh said he's not holding his breath that will happen.

"I guess the federal government is too busy bugging news reporters 
and distributing guns to Mexican cartels to actually enforce the law 
within their borders,' he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom