Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Fri, Oct. 18

Editorial: Does Arizona law trump federal law?

Statements we’ve heard before:

A candidate for a local school district’s board wanting the city to cut its Public Works spending to help pay for teachers’ salaries. That person did not win their seat.

The town council would be another candidate’s soapbox to monitor legislative actions, specifically promising to overturn the Roe v. Wade (abortion) decision. They too were not elected.

Yes, in our past we’ve seen people who have wonderful ideas and opinions but do not always understand that some government entities are separate; a school district budget does not benefit or accept money from a municipality; and a council member has no power to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Consider then a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision Wednesday stating the federal government ban on the sale of guns to medical marijuana card holders does not violate the Second Amendment. The ruling applies to the nine Western states, including Arizona.

The issue came out of a lawsuit filed by a Nevada woman, who said she tried to buy a firearm for self-defense after obtaining a medical marijuana card. The gun store refused, citing the federal rule banning the sale of firearms to illegal drug users.

In response to the ruling, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Deputy Director Paul Armentano told the Associated Press the idea that marijuana users were more prone to violence is a fallacy (responding to someone else’s comment). “Responsible adults who use cannabis in a manner that is compliant with the laws of their states ought to receive the same legal rights and protections as other citizens,” he said.

Sounds reasonable, such as being compliant with state laws – except that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has told gun sellers they can assume a person with a medical marijuana card uses the drug.

Also in the news Wednesday: the effort to legalize personal use of marijuana in the state of Arizona, like in Colorado, will be on our Nov. 8 ballots.

So, even if personal use of marijuana is legalized in our state, it’s still — as of right now — illegal according to federal law.

It’s a Catch 22 situation of sort; you could use it according to state law, but would the feds ever decide, say under new management, to enforce federal laws that are contrary to state law? It could happen sooner than you think, and it’s not all that crazy.

It is akin to the outlandish statement by a former state lawmaker, who years ago represented the district that includes Prescott: “Homosexuality leads to bestiality and cannibalism.”

For those of us who remember that one, it went over like a lead balloon. (OK, I put that one in there — though true, she did say it — to see if you were paying attention.)

Simply put: Assume nothing – one government entity’s laws can trump those of another; if you think the law or decree protecting you is solid, think again; and, some people are better for us … not in elected office.

Think about it.

Tim Wiederaenders is the city editor for the Daily Courier, part of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Email him at

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