Arizona: Supreme Court Affirms That Lawmakers Cannot Ban Medical Cannabis Access on College Campuses

ARIZONA:  The Arizona Supreme Court has upheld an appellate court decision striking down a 2012 law that sought to forbid medical cannabis access on college campuses.

Lifetime NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean represented the patient-defendant in the case pro bono, and called the decision a “victory for democracy.”

Justices opined that the 2012 law was unconstitutional because it impermissibly sought to amend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which voters passed in 2010. State law limits the legislature’s ability to amend, repeal, or supersede voter-initiated laws.

“Because the AMMA sets forth a list of locations where the legislature may impose ‘civil, criminal or other penalties’ when a person possesses or uses marijuana, § 36-2802, and because that list does not include college and university campuses (unlike pre-, primary-, and secondary-school grounds), we assume that the voters did not intend to criminalize AMMA-compliant possession or use of marijuana on public college and university campuses,” the court ruled. It further rejected the state’s claim that a campus-wide ban was necessary in order to preserve universities’ federal funding.

“If the State had prevailed, they could then have tampered with any and all ballot initiatives, past, present, and future,” said Dean. “This is a victory for all Arizona voters and especially for medical marijuana patients.”

The ruling sets aside the felony conviction of defendant Andrew Lee Maestas, who was initially charged and found guilty of the possession of 0.4 grams of marijuana despite his status as a state-registered medical cannabis patient.


For more information, contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500. The case is Arizona v Maestas, No. CR-17-0193-PR.

Medical-Marijuana Patients Still At Risk For DUI Conviction, Appeals Court Confirms

ARIZONA:  Medical-marijuana patients are still at risk for a DUI conviction simply for having trace amounts of THC in their bloodstreams, the state Court of Appeals confirmed on Tuesday.

In a 3-0 ruling with disclaimers by one judge, the court upheld the conviction of a Mesa man despite an apparent exception for such prosecutions in the voter-approved, 2010 medical-pot law.

Arizona, if you haven’t heard, has a zero-tolerance law against drivers with marijuana metabolites in their veins, medical card or not. Our May 2013 feature article, “Riding High,” covered how it was possible for patients or illegal cannabis users to be convicted for DUI even when impairment wasn’t a factor, and even when the only metabolite found was carboxy-THC, a molecule known to be inactive.

In April, the state Supreme Court ruled that drivers could not be convicted solely because of the presence of carboxy-THC. But the ruling left patients and illicit users at risk of getting a DUI even when they weren’t impaired.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens: Marijuana Should Be Legal

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Retired Justice John Paul Stevens made some news in an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon on Thursday.

Scott asked him if the federal government should legalize marijuana.

“Yes,” Stevens replied. “I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion [that’s] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug.”

Stevens’ comments are perhaps not particularly surprising. Stevens was, after all, considered part of the court’s liberal wing.

Arizona Court Rules On DUI Law For Marijuana Users

ARIZONA:  Authorities can’t prosecute Arizona motorists for driving under the influence of marijuana unless the person is impaired at the time of the stop, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in the latest opinion on an issue that several states have grappled with across the nation.

The ruling overturned a state Court of Appeals decision last year that upheld the right of authorities to prosecute pot smokers for DUI even when there is no evidence of impairment.

The opinion focuses on two chemical compounds in marijuana that show up in blood and urine tests — one that causes impairment and one that doesn’t but stays in a pot user’s system for weeks.