Arizona’s Proposition 203 Passes
Proposition 203, the medical marijuana initiative, has passed in Arizona as of the November 2010 elections. An amazing demonstration of how every vote counts, it passed by less than 5,000 votes. This means that in Arizona, doctors can prescribe marijuana to patients and they can receive legal marijuana for medicinal use.
Medical marijuana was a hotly contested issue. Proposition 203 specifically allows for doctor prescribed marijuana use in the following cases (source is the AZ Department of Health Services):
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces any of the following:
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Severe and chronic pain
Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy) or
Severe and persistent muscle spasms (including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis)
Long story short, a person needs to contact a doctor who will sign a certificate stating that a person has a debilitating disease which may be treated with marijuana. The person would then receive a medical marijuana card through the AZ Department of Health Services, and could purchase the drug from a nonprofit registered dispensary.
Marijuana will still not be allowed for personal use in non-medical situations.
What does this mean for Arizona? The Grand Canyon State has joined fifteen other states and the District of Columbia this year in legalizing medical pot. It is still at odds, however, with the federal law which classifies marijuana as an illegal controlled substance. This means that while state law may effectively facilitate the use of marijuana in medical circumstances, that person is still technically in violation of federal law.
In California, which has led the way for medical marijuana policies, there have been several cases of people growing marijuana under the state law and still being prosecuted by the federal government. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other federal agencies regularly conduct raids on dispensaries, leading to some conflict between state and federal legislatures.
This will require great care to be taken in Arizona by those wishing to consume medical marijuana. Purchasing an amount which by federal law could be considered trafficking should be carefully considered in light of the potential repercussions. Some cases in California have resulted in between one and five years in a federal penitentiary.
If you’ve been charged with a federal crime relating to marijuana, contact a reputable criminal attorney immediately. A criminal lawyer will evaluate your case, often at no cost, and represent your issues in the courtroom. This area of law is still hotly contested, and if you find yourself in trouble with contrasting laws you need adequate representation to protect your interests.