Medical Marijuana Law
In 2010, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was passed by voters’ initiative, allowing for the legal use of medical marijuana. The new law allowed a person with a debilitating medical condition to obtain a permit allowing for the legal possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The purpose of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act is “to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties and property forfeitures if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana.”[i]
Under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act a debilitating medical condition is:
(a) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, crohn’s disease, agitation of alzheimer’s disease or the treatment of these conditions.
(b) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.
(c) Any other medical condition or its treatment added by the department pursuant to section 36-2801.01.
If a patient qualifies and has a debilitating medical condition they can obtain an identification card, allowing the patient to possess and use marijuana for medical purposes.[ii] The Arizona Medical Marijuana law also protects patients with valid medical marijuana card from being arrested or prosecuted, so long as the person only possesses an allowable amount of marijuana. A usable amount of marijuana is described under A.R.S. § 36-2801(1):
“Allowable amount of marijuana”
(a) With respect to a qualifying patient, the “allowable amount of marijuana” means:
(ii) If the qualifying patient’s registry identification card states that the qualifying patient is authorized to cultivate marijuana, twelve marijuana plants contained in an enclosed, locked facility except that the plants are not required to be in an enclosed, locked facility if the plants are being transported because the qualifying patient is moving.
(b) With respect to a designated caregiver, the “allowable amount of marijuana” for each patient assisted by the designated caregiver under this chapter means:
(ii) If the designated caregiver’s registry identification card provides that the designated caregiver is authorized to cultivate marijuana, twelve marijuana plants contained in an enclosed, locked facility except that the plants are not required to be in an enclosed, locked facility if the plants are being transported because the designated caregiver is moving.
Furthermore, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Law requires “visiting qualifying patients” that hold an equivalent marijuana card issued in another state, the same protection under Arizona law.
Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals Division One found that law enforcement authorities must return seized marijuana to qualifying patients who possess an allowable amount of marijuana as stated by A.R.S. §§ 36-2809-2819. Under Arizona law, it is not a criminal offense for a qualified patient to possess a lawful amount of marijuana and the law mandates that a lawful quantity cannot be seized or forfeited from the patient. Thus, the court found that the “voter-approved statutory mandate that a qualified patient cannot suffer a penalty for possessing an allowable amount of marijuana, we reject the State’s argument that marijuana seized from a qualified patient is subject to summary forfeiture.”[iii]
If you have a valid Arizona Medical Marijuana identification card and arrested for possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia contact the criminal law attorneys of Gonzales and Poirier at 928-774-5400. Every criminal case is unique and different, this article should not be used as a substitute the legal advice of an attorney. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime you need to consult an attorney immediately, your rights and freedom could be at stake. Call us at 928-774-5400 or visit our website at www.triallawyersaz.com.
~The Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier