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he holidays are here. Carols and peppermint fill the air; twinkling lights delight the eye. All through the day, we’re greeted with “Merry Christmas.” Whether we are religious or not, Christmas is everywhere.
Mesa TV & Appliance salesman Brian Richardson has a problem: His customers can’t turn left into his driveway.
Stupid is as stupid does
PHOENIX — Doctors who recommend marijuana to patients can't be charged with crimes even if they did not follow the procedures required by law, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The judges acknowledged that Robert Gear, a Phoenix naturopath with offices in several communities, had been charged with recommending the drug to a patient without having access to 12 months of her medical records. That is a requirement under the law.
Gear was indicted on charges of forgery and fraudulent schemes after saying on a form required by the Department of Health Services that he had, in fact, seen those records.
But Judge Patricia Norris, writing for the unanimous appellate court, said what Gear or did not do is legally irrelevant. She said the 2010 voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act specifically bars criminal charges against any physician who certifies that a patient is likely to benefit from the drug.
Norris said a contrary ruling would be bad public policy.
"Criminal scrutiny and prosecution of physicians for certifying patients for medical marijuana use would have a chilling effect on the voluntary participation of physicians, and, thereby, hinder qualifying patients' efforts to obtain competent medical advice regarding medical marijuana, its medical risks, and its alleged therapeutic and palliative benefits,'' the judge wrote.
Thursday's decision upset Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon
"I'm just disappointed there are no consequences for doctors that don't follow the rules on how to prescribe a medical marijuana card,'' he said.
But Kimberly Kent, the attorney who represents Gear, said the law is clear. She said a doctor who determines marijuana is appropriate for a patient is immune from criminal prosecution.
Kent said it's a separate question of whether Gear might face some discipline, either by the health department or the board that regulates naturopaths.
Arizona law allows those with certain medical conditions to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. But they must first get a written recommendation from a doctor.
Court records say that a confidential informant working for the county's drug task force went to Gear to get such a recommendation. She completed a medical questionnaire and medical records statement provided by Gear's staff and disclosed information about her medical history and physical condition.
She also said she had seen other doctors in the past 12 months but did not "have a complete set of medical records'' with her. But she agreed she would either request that her records be sent to Gear or would bring them to her on her next visit.
Based on his examination of the woman, Gear certified the woman for medical marijuana use. He also completed a form which said he had "reviewed the qualifying patient's medical records, including medical records from other treating physicians from the previous 12 months.''
Norris said there is no legal basis for the charge.
She said the 2010 law provides immunity for any case in which a doctor certifies that "a patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of marijuana.'' And Norris said that is exactly what Gear did.
The question of whether he was not truthful on the form does not strip Gear of that immunity, she said, particularly as that requirement to review 12 months' worth of medical records is not required under the law but instead a regulation by the health department.
"Dr. Gear did not lose his statutory immunity merely because he completed the mandated DHS form,'' Norris wrote.
Beyond that, she said the immunity extends beyond delivering the certification sought by the patient.
"It also encompasses a physician's actions in preparing and completing the written certification,'' Norris said.
State Health Director Will Humble, whose agency enacted the rules about the medical records and designed the form, declined to comment on Thursday's ruling.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
Oh, boy. Here we go. Another wild ride in Arizona education.
Gay couples who want to wed in Arizona might want to do it — and soon. That's because the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld laws banning same-sex marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
PHOENIX -- Gay couples who want to wed in Arizona might want to do it -- and soon.
Citing concerns it broke state law — and despite insistence from its superintendent to the contrary — the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board voted to redact pages from its textbooks tied to abortion and reproduction.
Citing concerns it broke state law – and despite insistence from its superintendent to the contrary – the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board voted to redact pages from its textbooks tied to abortion and reproduction.
Climate change and global warming are two things that seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. But John Purchase, a retired physicist and engineer, said not many people know what they’re talking about.
Poston Butte’s golden season took an unexpected turn Friday night when the Broncos put up a goose egg on senior night.
Tempe police say an elderly woman was sexually assaulted in her home Saturday night.
The debate Tuesday night for who should be the state's chief election officer turned into a televised spat over religious discrimination.
PHOENIX -- The debate Tuesday night for who should be the state's chief election officer turned into a televised spat over religious discrimination.
Republican Michele Reagan found herself on the defensive for voting earlier this year for SB 1062. The measure would have allowed owners of businesses to cite their sincerely held religious beliefs as justification for refusing to provide service to some. It was eventually vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer as unnecessary -- and after some lawmakers of both parties who had voted for it had second thoughts. That includes Reagan.
"Bad vote,'' she conceded during a debate Tuesday night at KAET-TV. Reagan said in her 12 years in the Legislature, she probably cast 10,000 votes.
"So I would say it's probably a little inappropriate, and I would say a little unfair to go through and to cherry pick,'' she said.
That vote is irrelevant to the job she now wants, she contended. She said SB 1062 would have impaired the right of people to vote, a key duty of the office she wants.
But Democrat Terry Goddard said her vote should matter to those who want the secretary of state to run elections in the most open manner.
"I think we know from experience in the Deep South in the civil-rights era that access to a lunch counter and access to an equal seat on the bus and voting rights are all tied up in the same package,'' he said. "So, you can't say somebody doesn't get a full set of equal rights in one area and then say it's OK for voting.''
Goddard rejected questions from host Ted Simons that legislation about religious freedom is unrelated to voting rights.
"If the secretary of state is not making it clear to all the citizens of Arizona that they're going to be absolutely fair in the execution of the voting laws, that every vote is counted and every individual is equal, the message that goes out is going to have what we have today, which is a rapidly decelerating number of people participating,'' Goddard said.
Reagan shot back that the only message voters are getting from debating now her vote on SB 1062 is that Goddard wants to make the election "hyper partisan.''
"The message is, let's take one vote, two votes, three votes -- you can go through the 10,000 votes and find a couple -- and lets blow them up and try to make people angry,'' saying those moves were designed solely to "upset people.''
"That's the kind of stuff that turns people off from politics, from public policy, from government, the exact opposite of what a secretary of state or secretary of state candidate should be doing,'' Reagan said.
Goddard's retort to the charge of being hyper-partisan was that, in the end, the opposition to SB 1062 was bipartisan.
On the subject of boosting voter turnout, Reagan said she plans outreach ranging from an advocate to educating voters around the state, to setting up kiosks in high schools to make it easier for students turning 18 to register to vote.
Goddard focused on removing what he said are impediments thrown in the path of those not registered with any recognized party.
He said independent candidates have to get 33,000 signatures to run for statewide office; a Republican or Democrat needs around 7,000. And independent voters, who now outnumber Republicans and Democrats, must make a request before every primary election for an early ballot; party registrants who have signed up for these need do nothing more.
Each also claimed to be qualified to be governor if it comes to that, as the secretary of state is first in line if the chief executive quits, dies or is impeached and convicted.
Reagan cited her experience as a legislator and working at a family business. Goddard countered with his election as Phoenix mayor in the 1980s and as state attorney general from 2002 to 2010.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
Police are trying to identify a man who was seen assaulting a bus driver on September 8 when he wouldn't move the bus on the flooded roadway.
Producing over 500 yards of offense on most Friday nights usually gets the job done for Desert Ridge. Not on this night, however, and not against a Brophy team hungry for a little payback after a bitter state playoff defeat last year at the hands of the Jaguars.
Sometimes newspaper opinion generates the cream of community-thinking, which, in truth, is what it’s supposed to do. And, another plus: Readers’ constructive input drowns out the belly-aching from tweeter-types.
To drive down the 101 and admire Talking Stick Resort, Salt River Fields and pristine farmland you’d never guess that beyond the obvious beauty and the increasing wealth of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community there exists an extremely serious crime problem. A crime problem driven by organized crime gangs with ties to prison gangs and, ultimately Mexico based drug cartels, whose crime sprees don't stop at tribal boundaries, but extend well into the bordering cities of Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and beyond.
Tempe voters have spoken. Lauren Kuby and David Schapira are the newest members of the Tempe City Council after handily beating incumbents Robin Arredondo-Savage and two-term incumbent Shana Ellis.
An Oct. 20 trial has been set for a Mesa woman accused of running over her husband with an SUV because he didn't vote in the 2012 presidential election .
LAS VEGAS – The win wasn’t as monumental, but the second time around didn’t change the sentiment.
Conservative Republicans furious with some members of their own party for supporting Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan are targeting a half-dozen lawmakers in next week's primary in a nasty intra-party battle.
A “mistake” is what led to the discovery of people’s names and Social Security numbers in a Gilbert dumpster.
The owners of the closed Lakes Golf Course have been pumping water out of the lakes on the property for weeks, and it will still be weeks until the lakes are dry, they said.