arizona medical marijuana act

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Arizona: Appelate Court Strikes Medical Marijuana Campus Ban


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Arizona appellate court has ruled that a 2012 law amending the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) to prohibit the use of medical marijuana on college campuses is unconstitutional. NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean represented the patient-defendant in the case pro bono.

"By enacting A.R.S. § 15-108(A), the Legislature modified the AMMA to re-criminalize cardholders' marijuana possession on college and university campuses," the Court opined. "The statute does not further the purposes of the AMMA; to the contrary, it eliminates some of its protections."

The Court argued that campuses and universities possess the authority to enact their own individual policies restricting medical marijuana use, but that lawmakers cannot do so.

The decision overturned a medical-marijuana cardholder's 2015 felony conviction for the possession of a small quantity of marijuana while attending Arizona State University.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office has not yet publicly stated whether they intend to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Arizona: Appeals Court Says Marijuana Smell Not Enough For Cops To Bust In


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The smell of marijuana is no longer enough for police to get a warrant and bust down the door, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.

The judges, in a split decision, acknowledged that the odor of cannabis, whether fresh or just smoked, had formerly been enough to provide the cops with probable cause that a crime was taking place, giving the basis to go to a judge to get a warrant for permission to enter and determine the source of the smell. But Judge Peter Eckerstrom, writing the majority opinion, said that all changed in 2010 when voters approved the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

"Medical marijuana use pursuant to AMMA is lawful under Arizona law," Judge Eckerstrom wrote. "Therefore its scent alone does not disclose whether a crime has occurred."

The smell of marijuana, absent other evidence, doesn't provide the consitutional basis for a search, Eckerstrom wrote. Instead, the court set up what is being called an "odor-plus" standard of probable cause.

The ruling is considered a huge setback for police and prosecutors who until now have found that claiming they smell marijuana comes in quite handy when they want to search a location but have flimsy or nonexistent evidence upon which to base such a search.

“Were we to adopt the state’s suggestion that scent alone furnishes probable cause of a crime, medical marijuana patients would become second-class citizens, losing their rights to privacy and security, including privacy within their own homes,” Judge Eckerstrom reasonably wrote.

Arizona: Judge Overturns Maricopa County Zoning Law On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Superior Court judge has overturned Maricopa County, Arizona's zoning ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries, ruling that it was a "transparent attempt" to keep the shops out of unincorporated areas of the county.

Superior Court Judge Michael Gordon on Monday granted a pretrial verdict favoring White Mountain Health Center, which is planning to open a dispensary in Sun City, and rejected a similar request from the county, reports Paul Davenport of The Associated Press.

Judge Gordon said the Maricopa County ordinance was written to keep dispensaries out, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. He also noted there is no available property in Sun City with the zoning category required by the ordinance.

"This court will not rule that Arizona, having sided with the ever-growing minority of states and having limited it to medical use, has violated public policy," wrote Judge Gordon.

The county has the power to protect public health, safety and welfare through zoning, but Arizona's medical marijuana law doesn't allow it to use those powers to prohibit dispensaries, Judge Gordon said.

The version of the ordinance adopted in 2011 "suggests a transparent attempt to prevent the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act," the judge wrote.

Arizona: Top Health Official Warns Marijuana Soda Pop/Candy Is A Felony


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Arizona's top health official warned on Friday that medical marijuana soda pop or hard candy can still land you, and the dispensary owner who sold it to you, in jail -- even if you are a medical marijuana patient.

According to State Health Director Will Humble, the medical marijuana law approved by Arizona voters in 2010 allows cannabis-infused food products, but he cautioned the law is written to require that the food products contain "actual pieces" of the marijuana plant.

Humble said that means any cannabis edible that contains only an extract remains a felony in Arizona.

The legal distinction, of course, is absurd. The only difference between food products prepared with marijuana and those prepared with marijuana extracts is, of course, the size of the "pieces of marijuana" inside them; in the case of most extracts, the "pieces" would be the cannabinoids themselves, mainly psychoactive THC and anti-inflammatory CBD.

Humble said he's "not an attorney" and "cannot define exactly" when the preparation of food products such as brownies, sodas or lollipops crosses the illegal line. But he claimed Arizona's law is "very clear" that only "usable marijuana" is legally protected, and not the extracts minus the plant matter.

Arizona: Medical Marijuana Packaging Bill Loses Prosecutors' Support

(Graphic: Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Members of the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys' Advisory Council have withdrawn their support for legislation their members had helped write that would have regulated packaging of medical marijuana edibles. The council voted last week to no longer support Senate Bill 1440 because of the conflict between the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and federal law.

The bill would have enforced the use of bland packaging on candy containing cannabis, but it will likely die now, reports Lindsey Collom at The Arizona Republic. The attorneys said it's too hard to keep legislating medical marijuana rules in a legal atmosphere that needs to be decided in the courts.

The council withdrew its support for SB 1440 because it conflicts with an argument prosecutors are making in a case before the Arizona Supreme Court, stemming from a case where a Yuma County Superior Court judge ordered the Sheriff's Department to return marijuana seized from a California woman who was a legal medical marijuana patient in her home state.

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