Arizona court orders return of seized medical marijuana
Someone who is authorized to use medicinal marijuana will likely face a confusing legal landscape if they are arrested by federal authorities.
August 22, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Arizona court orders return of seized medical marijuana
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Under limited circumstances, Arizona law allows individuals to possess, purchase and consume marijuana for medicinal purposes. Arizona also recognizes medical marijuana cards that were validly issued in another state.
However, despite this state law, marijuana possession -- even for legitimate medical use -- remains a federal crime. This means that someone who is authorized to use medicinal marijuana will likely face a confusing legal landscape if they are arrested by federal authorities.
A case in point can be found in a recent ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals. The case involved a woman who was arrested at a Border Patrol checkpoint outside of Yuma after it was discovered that she was in possession of marijuana. In her defense, the woman claimed that she was from California and had been legally authorized to possess medical marijuana under that state's laws.
The woman's case was turned over to county officials, who dismissed the charges against her. However, when the woman sought to have her marijuana returned to her, county officials were unsure how to proceed. Because the sale or distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law, they worried that they might be committing a federal crime if they gave the marijuana back.
Ultimately, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the law required county officials to return the marijuana, noting that county officials are immune from prosecution if they are simply complying with the terms of a court order. The Arizona Supreme Court declined to review the case, effectively upholding the appellate court's decision.
Arizona marijuana laws
In Arizona, medical marijuana is only available to individuals with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer or muscle spasms. Individuals must get authorization from a physician and then register with the Arizona Department of Health Services. Qualified patients are allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks, but may not possess more than 2.5 ounces at any time.
Anyone using or possessing marijuana in Arizona without medical authorization can face serious criminal penalties. Under state law, the possession of anything less than two pounds of marijuana is a Class 5 felony. Punishments can include up to 2 years in prison, significant fines and probation with community service. The sale or production of marijuana can bring even stronger penalties.
Even though the societal attitudes surrounding marijuana are changing, the law still views marijuana as a serious drug. If you have been charged with a marijuana offense, it is important not to take risks with your future. Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you mount the strongest defense possible.
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