Judge: Medical-Marijuana Patients Can Sell Pot to Other Patients Because Law is Vague

Categories: Medical Weed

pot-plants-flickr-plascencia.jpg
Image: Susie Plascencia via Flickr
Arizona's medical-marijuana law is so vague, the state can't prosecute patients who sell pot to other patients, a Pima County Superior Court judge has ruled.

The offbeat July 2 ruling and dismissal of a criminal case by Judge Richard Fields has the potential to open up all sorts of entrepreneurial opportunities for Arizonans to sell marijuana legally -- if it survives an appeal.

See also:
-Tempe "Compassion Club" Delta 9 Busted for Pot Sales

The case began with the October 8, 2013, indictment of Jeremy Allen Matlock on three felony counts in connection with the sale and growing of marijuana. Matlock's public defender, Sarah Bullard, filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the premise that Matlock was immune from prosecution.

Bullard argued that Matlock, a registered cardholder who was approved for cultivation at the time of his indictment, never violated the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act because the law allows patients to sell marijuana to other patients.

Although voters in 2010 approved a system of regulated dispensaries to sell marijuana, part of the Act's text that is now enshrined in Arizona Revised Statute 36-2811 states that "a registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver is not subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner" for various marijuana-related offenses.

Here's where it gets interesting: Those qualified Arizonans can't be prosecuted "for offering or providing marijuana to a registered qualifying patient or a registered designated caregiver for the registered qualifying patient's medical use or to a registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary if nothing of value is transferred in return and the person giving the marijuana does not knowingly cause the recipient to possess more than the allowable amount of marijuana."

That's a mouthful, especially with no commas. But without punctuation, Judge Fields notes in his ruling, (see below for full text), it can be interpreted in at least two different ways. The Pima County Attorney's Office reads it one way -- that patients and caregivers can't sell give their pot to anyone if something of value is transferred.

Bullard and her client wanted the clause read in a different way.

fields-richard-pima-county-judge.JPG
Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields
Read her way, the whole "nothing of value" part affects only those cases in which the patient sells to a dispensary.

Another clause in the law states, "Any cardholder who sells marijuana to a person who is not allowed to possess marijuana for medical purposes" will have his or her card revoked, implying that a cardholder who sells pot to a person who is allowed to possess it under the AMMA would not face revocation.

Arizona's "rule of lenity" requires that if a law has more than one interpretation, the one more lenient to the defendant must be applied.

Put it all together, Fields writes, and the law "necessarily implies that a qualifying patient can sell marijuana."



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joey
joey

@arperture

I get you on the high priced ridiculous monopoly of the dispensaries, but NO pot they sell is from Mexico.

Maybe at first some stocked from CA weed, but Mexico, no way.,

arperture602
arperture602

Everytime I go to a dispensary I don't find anything but junk that is overpriced and all the resin glands are gone.

arperture602
arperture602

Will Humble has no idea what he is saying. He is nothing but a mouthpiece for the state and it's taxes that they make off the overpriced dispensaries that get their supply from mexico and other states inside US territories..

arperture602
arperture602

It clearly says patient to patient in the law..

AkaTed
AkaTed

99% of STATE licensed dispensary's profit off patient's charging for over-priced medicine, I say medicine because for some it's not just about getting high it's about surviving another day.Charging 55-60 a 1/8 is ridiculous for high yielding medicine.


Private caregivers and local grower outside the dispensary control should bring prices more in line.


At the same token taken from my exp dealing with non state licensed MMJ delivery driver's.I had a company just show to my door randomly twice in 2 months because I had the same name of a patient and lived in the same city.I have not dealt with this company for over a year.

Or you could have a another caregiver show up with a Cadillac SUV with 26inch rims as well and would not come to my door for delivery which says robbery.Sunnyslop did not raise no fool

Just saying :) 


Private care givers free up control of the market set up by dispensary and private racket.In which most people with a serious debilitating condition can have access to cheaper medicine.


Only State licensed dispensary's that actually take care of patients are in El Mirage and Youngstown

Matt Barton
Matt Barton

Hmmm educate yourself on the current laws in Colorado and Washington then speak. Smoke a bowl too while your at it

garybt7
garybt7

Who was harmed or threatened? What is the purpose of having laws? When will someone realize what a waste it is to try to control something that harms no one?

1wayfaringpilgrim
1wayfaringpilgrim

Patients selling to patients?  That's nothing new, we used to do that all the time; only we were called hippies and stoners.

teknik
teknik

no one will buy mexican dirt. no one.  the only folks who'd be able to take advantage of this are folks outside of the 25 mile rule.

Robert Smith
Robert Smith

Thank you Matt Barton!! You said it all.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

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Flyer9753
Flyer9753

Great ruling!


Hey Republicans... I thought you were all about the free market????


What's a more free market than this???


Which is exactly why you don't like it, you can't skim off of others.

gumud
gumud

will humble is out of touch with what voters wanted. a free market is best, dispensaries are a ripoff and i can grow my own 100% organic buds and get much higher quality than the dispensaries have for CHEAP. at least i used to, before a dispensary opened within 25 miles of me.

i think what voters really wanted was freedom. lets us grow our own plants if we want to, it's no different than growing our own fruits and vegetables. patients should have a choice of where they get their pot, whether they want to purchase from a high priced dispensary or some small-time farmer that's also a patient

420hydroking
420hydroking

I wanna make signs that say
" We snitched on our people so our people could shop in our spot"
and stand outside the dispensaries!

Angie Rivera
Angie Rivera

Do we have any UNBIASED sources of the impact of marijuana decriminalization in Colorado? Because I heard it has done good, but the sources might be a little biased, I don't know.

wdt404
wdt404

Don't expect this OK-for-patient-to-patient-to-sell window to last long. I think the legislature will revise the statute very quickly to close that window.


(1) The dispensary system was designed in part so that the a patient would not be able to purchase more than the amount-per-time allotted by law. Patient-to-patient bypasses the time frame, since a patient selling to another patient would likely be ignorant of the amount currently possessed by the buying patient, or when it was bought. (2) Fake IDs could more easily fool a selling patient, allowing legal marijuana to pass into the hands of a not-legal-buyer; that is less likely to happen under the current system, where dispensaries run the buyer's card through the computer. (3) There is a form of quality control in dispensary sales, where dispensaries are required to have marijuana purchases labeled with information regarding source, amount, strain, date of manufacture and chemical additives. When patients are buying from each other, the buying patient has less information, and this could leave patients more vulnerable to pesticide-sprayed product, etc. (4) This creates a very unsatisfactory situation for law enforcement. If police witness (or are told about) an exchange of marijuana and money, was it something legal or illegal? How much effort is going to be wasted on investigating incidents which were perfectly legal?


It seems likely that the legislature will rapidly change the statute to explicitly address the ambiguity in the present wording which was criticized by the judge. It might be prudent for those legislators revising the statute, to keep in mind that there will likely be some form of Colorado-type legalization within a few years. They might want to be sure the revisions made now would still be functional in a legalized situation, so the revisions won't have to be changed yet again.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton

This state needs to embrace the decriminalization, regulation and taxation of Marijuana. The fact that it is still illegal and alcohol and tobacco are two of the biggest killers in the world - yet easily available and taxed is mind-blowing. Marijuana is not going anywhere so why not embrace the changing times and have a steady flow of income coming into this state instead of drug dealers and cartel pockets.

dtmac
dtmac

When the 25 mile rule is declared an unconstitutional violation of Equal Protection Under The Law ( Article 2 Section 13 of the AZ. Constitution ) the dispensaries will be really scrambling. Their monopoly scam will be over, and patients rights restored.


typingchimp
typingchimp

What about all those patients arrested robbed and convicted of doing this?

sweetcookies3333
sweetcookies3333

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13


1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy...#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed...

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states and NEW YORK (CBD = Cant Be Done), sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade

Deaths by Guns: Millions

Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions

Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

ArlinTroutt
ArlinTroutt

July 23, at 8:00 AM I am having a hearing before Judge Eigenheer at the Administrative Hearing Office 1400 W. Washington Street, Room 101.  This is where the dirt gets swept under the judicial desk. This case is about the right to grow and use naturally cultivated marijuana instead of the expensive designer dope the Arizona Department of Health pushing along with their Behavioral Health Medications. 


U.S. Hemp/Arlin Troutt

refuesal1
refuesal1

Well this should piss some dispensary owners right off. 

suckmydick
suckmydick

Enjoy your booze alkie. Give your kid some schnapps.

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@ArizonaAutistics Thanks for writing, Arizona. I just looked at that post and comment thread. It appears that Humble was referring only to this:


Will HumbleMarch 30, 2011 at 8:30 am

Michelle-
36-2801(5) “DESIGNATED CAREGIVER” MEANS A PERSON WHO:
(a) IS AT LEAST TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE.
(b) HAS AGREED TO ASSIST WITH A PATIENT’S MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA.
(c) HAS NOT BEEN CONVICTED OF AN EXCLUDED FELONY OFFENSE.
(d) ASSISTS NO MORE THAN FIVE QUALIFYING PATIENTS WITH THE MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA.
(e) MAY RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR ACTUAL COSTS INCURRED IN ASSISTING A REGISTERED QUALIFYING PATIENT’S MEDICAL USE OF MARIJUANA IF THE REGISTERED DESIGNATED CAREGIVER IS CONNECTED TO THE REGISTERED QUALIFYING PATIENT THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT’S REGISTRATION PROCESS. THE DESIGNATED CAREGIVER MAY NOT BE PAID ANY FEE OR COMPENSATION FOR HIS SERVICE AS A CAREGIVER. PAYMENT FOR COSTS UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE AN OFFENSE UNDER TITLE 13, CHAPTER 34 OR UNDER TITLE 36, CHAPTER 27, ARTICLE 4.

StevenFascistberg
StevenFascistberg

No, fuck you and your anti-american anti-freedom chant. Oh, and fuck taxes that go to isreal too Mr. Berg.

SeedyWard
SeedyWard

@420hydroking You might want to hire an ad man, but the sentiment is on the mark. Now, I don't mind if the dispensaries sell over-priced pot. Let them have at it. However, if they thought they wouldn't have to compete against a black/gray market when they were making their business plans they were delusional. 


Given that, the apparent complicity of some dispensary owners in ratting out caregivers is despicable. The ones responsible deserve to be held to account, as much or even more than do the narcs and prosecutors. Seriously, most of those dispensary owners weren't even part of the effort to pass Prop 203. They just saw an opportunity after the fact. That doesn't apply to ALL dispensary owners, don't get me wrong. I'm acquainted with at least two who were part of the scene beforehand. 


However, for carpet baggers to cop an attitude about people who have risked their lives in the scene long before they were involved, well, that's just ridiculous. 

dkessler4
dkessler4

In March alone, taxed and legal recreational marijuana sales generated nearly $19 million, up from $14 million in February. The state has garnered more than $10 million in taxes from retail sales in the first four months — money that will go to public schools and infrastructure, as well as for youth educational campaigns about substance use.


According to his latest budget proposal, Gov. John Hickenlooper expects a healthy $1 billion in marijuana sales over the next fiscal year. That's nearly $134 million in tax revenue. Sales from recreational shops are expected to hit $600 million, which is a more than 50% increase over what was originally expected.


Marijuana-related arrests, which make up 50% of all drug-related crimes, have plummeted in Colorado, freeing up law enforcement to focus on other criminal activity. By removing marijuana penalties, the state is estimated to save somewhere between $12 million and $40 million, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.


According to government data, the Denver city- and county-wide murder rate has dropped 42.1% since recreational marijuana use was legalized in January. This is compared to the same period last year, a time frame encompassing Jan. 1 through May 31. Violent crime in general is down almost 2%, and major property crimes are down 11.5% compared to the same period in 2013.


This is a far cry from wild-eyed claims by legalization opponents that legal weed was the devil's work and Colorado would see a surge in crime and drug use.  What happened to the zombie pilots who were to fly out of Denver or the zombies the prohibitionists predicted would drive our busses.  "Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere," said Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver in 2012. The steam hasn't even stopped rising on this pile of BS...


With the fall of prohibition, the marijuana industry has developed rapidly, generating thousands of new jobs. It is estimated there are currently about 10,000 people directly involved with the blossoming weed industry, with up to 2,000 people having gained employment in the past few months alone.


MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

wdt, the clowns at the State Capitol can't mess with a voter approved law thanks to the voter protection act.

tetonmoon61
tetonmoon61

@wdt404 First of all, Arizona does not require any type of chemical analysis so you could and have been purchasing poisoned pot at dispensaries. As for most commercial growers are forced to use pesticides etc. In CA lets say, a smaller grower can sell to a dispensary, these dispensaries must send out the plant for any pest, residue, and THC content. 

Also if I am not mistaken, the only reason we have MMJ after it passing three times in AZ and being over turned by legislature is, that new legislation takes it out of the governments hands once voter approved. So as far as I know, the representatives have no right to change anything about the current law as it is written. This has been the stance by Will Humble regarding the 25 mile rule. This worthless blob of flesh has sucked off as many dispensary scum as he can to bend and mold the rules for the rich and powerful dispensaries while insisting he can do nothing for the truly sick and poor who cannot eat every month let alone pay a bloated price for unknown substances at state sponsored drug cartel run dispensaries. 

So I don't think anything but Judicial opinions and rulings to clarify the law as it exists can be done. If it could  the ignorant phucks like Mongomery, Polk, Brewer etc would have stripped this law apart and made it go away. 

StevenFascistberg
StevenFascistberg

Oh god, I can feel my God-given rights to consume a God-given plant without aonther persons butthole puckering up and getting angry, making up lies, and then depriving me of my God-given rights while saying they represent the God who gave me the plant and the freedom!

SeedyWard
SeedyWard

Then you should get a card, and burn one.

StevenFascistberg
StevenFascistberg

@sweetcookies3333 No, it's not even close to being free. You can pay 100 a quarter ounce, or have the swat team kick in your door and shoot your barking dog in the head for a measly few plants. Da man gotta get his cut ya know, don't make them send in the war heroes to treat you like an Iraqi citizen.

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StevenFascistberg
StevenFascistberg

@SeedyWard Very good post. Grow your own and fuck the man. Enough said on all levels. Society, for fucking me and my personal freedoms for so long, you can suck my balls. Cash and bartering, grow your own, fuck the man, and all their little mini leg humping idiot followers.

StevenFascistberg
StevenFascistberg

@karlos.freeman Sounds and smells like bullshit.Cannabis is only completely legal in two states, so crossing any state line where it isn't legal is a crime. Also, the Fed laws make it illegal to cross state lines. In addition, there is so much NEED for cannabis I find it ironic that you would need to advertise to every leg-humping officer on the internet.


Fraud, america's new stupidest criminal, or a pig trap for the mentally challenged, all equally disgust me.

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