Arizona sues Justice Dept. over medical marijuana

By PAUL DAVENPORT | May 27, 2011 | 7:59 PM EDT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona officials are taking the state's medical marijuana law to court.

Attorney General Tom Horne late Friday sued the U.S. Justice Department and other defendants on behalf of the state and Gov. Jan Brewer.

The suit asks a federal judge to rule on whether strict compliance with the Arizona law provides protection from federal prosecution or whether the Arizona measure is pre-empted by federal law.

The state law approved by voters last November decriminalizes distribution, possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes under specified circumstances.

However, the U.S. attorney for Arizona has reminded state officials that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Brewer has said she's concerned that state employees could face federal prosecution for administering the state program.