State Health Agency Has No Evidence That Marijuana Killed Anyone

ARIZONA:  After five years of legal medical-marijuana in Arizona, health department officials say this week they have no evidence that marijuana has been the cause of any death in the state.

Nor can the same officials present to the public any supporting evidence behind a 2013 study that claims the deaths of 62 kids were “associated” with marijuana.

The study was brought into prominence this week after anti-legalization activist Sheila Polk, the four-term Yavapai County Attorney, used it to prop up her point that marijuana is dangerous.

Patients Can’t Sell Medical Pot, Appeals Court Rules

ARIZONA:  In an opinion that impacts several criminal cases around the state, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that authorized medical-marijuana patients cannot sell cannabis to other patients.

The 3-0 ruling by the state’s Division Two appeals court overturns a decision made last July by Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields, who ruled that such sales were legal under the voter-approved, 2010 Medical Marijuana Act.

The ruling resulted in the dismissal of a marijuana-for-sale case involving Jeremy Allen Matlock of Tucson and caught the attention of prosecutors around the state. Marijuana activists and criminal defendants were buoyed by Fields’ ruling, hoping their own cases would be tossed out.

Council Allows Longer Hours For Marijuana Dispensary

ARIZONA:  After about 90 minutes of presentation and discussion the Town Council granted the local medical marijuana dispensary an additional eight hours of operation each week.

The council split its vote, 4-3, with Vice Mayor Dennis Brown, and Council Members Nick DePorter, Cassie Hansen and Alan Magazine supporting the change.

Mayor Linda Kavanagh and Council Members Henry Leger and Cecil Yates opposed.

It may have been a change of heart and a proposed compromise on the part of Mark Steinmetz, owner and operator for Natures AZ Medicines, which prompted the needed four-vote support.

Forfeiture Funds Used To Oppose Marijuana Legalization

ARIZONA:  A law-enforcement task force in Yavapai County cut a $50,000 check from RICO funds to a substance-abuse group dedicated to fighting marijuana legalization in Arizona, New Times has learned.

The deal between the Yavapai County-based Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT) task force and MATFORCE was made soon after the Marijuana Policy Project announced it would launch a 2016 legalization campaign in Arizona — and more public funding against legalization could be on the way.

Last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an opinion, based on a question by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, that public resources could continue to “educate” the public about the alleged evils of marijuana legalization. The decision allows elected officials to do more than simply use their time for a campaign against a planned ballot initiative — they can apparently spend money on advertising and other efforts, too. But they have to balance their actions against a state ban against the use of public resources for campaigning.

Brnovich’s opinion makes it tougher for elected officials to violate that law — and easier to waste public funds while campaigning for their preferred candidates or, in this case, planned ballot measures.


Arizona’s Marijuana Ballot Initiative: A Gateway Plan?

ARIZONA:  First marijuana, then meth? … At a lively debate last week on the proposed legalization of marijuana, an attorney who supports the 2016 ballot initiative told the audience the measure is the “first step” toward full legalization of drugs in Arizona.

Local criminal defense attorney Marc Victor, arguing in favor of legalization, debated Seth Leibsohn, chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.

Victor said he wished some of the initiative’s language was different, but said “it’s better than being the world’s leader in incarceration rates.” His comments were met with applause and whistles.


Voter Initiative To Legalize Marijuana In Arizona Filed

ARIZONA:  A group that hopes to get voters to legalize recreational use of marijuana filed an initiative with Friday with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office and will start a signature-gathering campaign to get it on the ballot.

The Marijuana Policy Project and several other activist groups that filed the initiative need to gather more than 150,000 valid signatures by July 7, 2016 to get the initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

The initiative would allow people age 21 years and older to grow and consume small amounts of marijuana. It also would set up a regulatory system allowing licensed businesses to grow and sell marijuana and let local governments oversee or prohibit pot businesses.

Dispensaries Shake Up Chances For Marijuana Legalization In Arizona In 2016

ARIZONA:  The chances of a successful marijuana-legalization initiative in Arizona for 2016 appear to have diminished due to fighting among two competing political groups.

As we reported on March 27, the Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona was surprised by the sudden launch of a competing 2016 campaign by their chairperson, Dr. Gina Berman.

A leaked online survey shows that a coalition of Arizona medical-marijuana dispensaries are backing Berman’s group.

Arizona Supreme Court Allows Medical Marijuana On Probation

ARIZONA:  The Supreme Court ruled that both had the right to use marijuana for their medical conditions and that prosecutors and courts could not block that right 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, an assistant Pima County public defender.

Euchner argued as a friend of the court in both cases in his role as a member of the executive committee for 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 agreement because it had not yet been accepted by a judge.

Navajo Lawmaker Firm On Stance Against Legalizing Marijuana

ARIZONA:  A lawmaker on the country’s largest American Indian reservation has introduced a bill to reaffirm the tribe’s stance against legalizing marijuana.

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie says legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use contradicts Navajo values and tradition.

His bill introduced this week comes in response to an announcement last year by the U.S. Department of Justice to allow American Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana within certain guidelines.

Navajo lawmakers can take action on Yazzie’s bill after a public comment period.

Comp Insurers Could Avoid Medical Marijuana Claims Under Arizona Bill

ARIZONA:  An Arizona bill would allow workers compensation insurers and employers self-insured for workers comp to deny payment for medical marijuana.

H.B. 2346 was introduced Jan. 28 in the Arizona House by a group of 12 Republican sponsors, according to the Arizona State Legislature website.

The legislation, as proposed, would update Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, which passed in 2010 and already allows government medical assistance programs and private health insurers to deny payment for medical marijuana. Proposed language would add workers comp insurers and self-insured employers to the list of entities that are not required to pay for the drug, according to the bill posted online.

The Arizona House insurance committee is slated to consider the medical marijuana bill on Wednesday.