arizona supreme court

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Arizona Supreme Court Says State May Not Deny Medical Marijuana To Felons On Probation


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday issued two rulings barring courts and prosecutors from denying medical marijuana use as a term of probation, if the convicted felons in question have valid medicinal cannabis authorizations.

In the first case, a Cochise County man convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to sell was forbidden from using medical marijuana by a probation officer after his release from prison, reports Michael Kiefer at The Arizona Republic. In the second, a woman pleading guilty to DUI in Yavapai County refused to abstain from using medicinal cannabis as a term of her probation, prompting the prosecution to withdraw the plea agreement. Both had valid Arizona medical marijuana cards.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that both probationers had the right to use marijuana for their medical conditions under state law, and that prosecutors and courts couldn't take that away from them as a term of probation.

"The Supreme Court is recognizing what the people decided when they passed the initiative: You can use your medicine," said David Euchner, assistant Pima County public defender. Euchner argued in both cases as a member of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

The court ruled, however, that the Yavapai County Attorney's Office had the right to withdraw from the offered plea deal because it had not yet been accepted by a judge.

Arizona Supreme Court Rules Drivers Can't Be Charged With DUI For Inactive Marijuana Traces


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Drivers who have used cannabis cannot be charged with driving under its influence merely on that basis, even if some traces of it are still detected in their bloodstream, according to the Arizona Supreme Court, which made the ruling on April 22.

The state Supreme Court justices didn’t buy the arguments of the Maricopa County Attorney Office, which argued before the court back in November that drivers whose blood tests reveal the presence of an inactive metabolite of cannabis called carboxy-THC can be prosecuted for impaired driving, reports Yvonne Wingett Sanchez at the Arizona Republic.

The prosecutor was unable to convince the Arizona Supreme Court that the mere presence of the marijuana metabolite – which can remain in the bloodstream for more than 30 days – is valid evidence of actual impairment.

Marijuana users break Arizona law when the drive while “impaired to the slightest degree,” and if they are discovered with metabolites in their blood that are known to impair. But drivers cannot be convicted “based merely on the presence of a non-impairing metabolite that may reflect prior usage of marijuana,” wrote Justice Robert Brutinel.

Arizona: Prosecutor Says Smoking Marijuana Weeks Before Enough For DUI Charge


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

There's nothing wrong with charging a motorist who smoked marijuana a month ago with impaired driving, an Arizona prosecutor told the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Susan Luder, a deputy Maricopa County attorney, admitted that carboxy-THC, a metabolite of marijuana, often shows up in drug tests a month after the last time an individual used cannabis, reports Howard Fischer at Capitol Media Services. She didn't even argue with her own expert witness, who said the presence of that metabolite does not indicate someone is impaired.

But, as strange as it seems, Luder told the Supreme Court justices that it is perfectly legal under Arizona law to prosecute someone for driving under the influence of marijuana when they haven't smoked for a month, and are not impaired at all.

Those convicted of driving while drugged can lose their driver's license for up to a year in Arizona.

Chief Justice Rebecca Burch wondered where, exactly, the line is if someone can be charged for impaired driving a month after using marijuana. She questioned if Luder's logic falls apart if carboxy-THC can be detected a year -- or even five years -- after someone last used pot.

Luder brushed aside such arguments, saying it's "up to the Legislature to decide."

Arizona: Ruling Stands; Sheriff Must Return Medical Marijuana To Patient


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Arizona Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court's ruling that the Yuma County sheriff must return cannabis seized from a woman with a California medical marijuana authorization honored by Arizona.

The justices, without comment, declined to review a January ruling by the Court of Appeals, reports The Associated Press.

According to the January ruling, medical marijuana seized from patient Valerie Okun must be given back to her.

That is because Arizona's medical marijuana law -- approved by voters in 2010 -- allows people with medicinal cannabis authorizations from other states to legally possess marijuana in Arizona.

The cannabis was found in Okun's vehicle at a Yuma checkpoint of the Border Patrol. Drug charges against her were dismissed after she produced a California medical marijuana authorization.

Prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to claim that federal marijuana laws invalidate Arizona's medical marijuana law.

(Photo: AzCapitolTimes)

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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