Arizona Medical Marijuana Laws Are Fraught With Danger

Two years ago, voters in Arizona passed a citizen’s initiative that legalized medical marijuana.  The law (actually a series of statutes) legalizes some things, prohibits others, and creates many shades of gray.

When the initiative passed, I became intimately familiar with it, parsing the minutiae to find out exactly what was allowed and what was not.  I found that the laws, written by an activist group, left much to be desired for clarity.

Many people, perhaps over 200, have been referred to me to consult on what is allowed, what is not allowed, and how gray certain areas are.  I have heard many business plans, especially those involving the sparsely-addressed area of “caregiver,” that sought to profit from growing and selling marijuana.  Almost always, the person said he was not “selling” marijuana, but was taking a “donation” for some service.  I won’t go into the plans, or my advice, here.

In addition to consulting on the ins and outs of the laws, I have represented people charged with crimes involving marijuana where the medical marijuana laws impacted the charges.  I have been able to have over 20 felony charges thrown out because of the confusion in the laws.

What I find now, though, is disconcerting.  I am seeing a trend of people either listening to others who do not know the law and doing illegal things and, worse, I see people I have counseled doing it “their way” and being charged with crimes.  I don’t like being in the position of saying to someone charged with a crime “why didn’t you follow my advice?”

The Maricopa County Attorney and the Arizona Attorney General are making every legal effort to have the Arizona medical marijuana laws voided.  This should tell you something; they think marijuana is evil and they will prosecute you if you violate the medical marijuana laws even slightly.

Before you decide to get involved in medical marijuana, please consult with someone who knows the laws, and follow their advice.  If the police show up, realize that they may or may not know the law, don’t consent to any search, and above all don’t talk to the police.  Call a lawyer.