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Medical Marijuana Laws in Arizona

An interesting July 2nd ruling by Judge Richard Fields has everyone talking about the legality and moral implications for medical marijuana patients selling their marijuana to other patients. If the ruling stands, this particular decision has the potential to create many different opportunities for Arizonans to sell their marijuana legally.

The Case of the Medical Marijuana Patient Selling to Other Patients

In October, Jeremy Allen Matlock was indicted on three felony counts of growing and selling marijuana. Matlock was a licensed cardholder at the time of his indictment, and was cooperative with law enforcement. His public defender, Sarah Bullard, argued for dismissal of the case because Matlock had broken no laws by selling his marijuana.

The voter approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows patients to sell marijuana to other patients because it states “a registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver is not subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner” for various marijuana related offenses. On the other hand, the AMMA gets vague in the next paragraph where it says: 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.”

Whew, what a mouthful! The long sentence and lack of punctuation led to many different interpretations of the laws. Judge Field says the law could be taken two ways. The way the Pima County Attorney’s Office reads the law means patients and caregivers can’t sell/give their marijuana if anything or value is transferred, but Matlock and Bullard argued “nothing of value” pertains only to patients selling to dispensaries.

The Verdict for Patients Legally Selling Marijuana

Lucky for Matlock, Arizona has another law that states if the law can be interpreted in more than one way that the more lenient interpretation is awarded to the defendant. Judge Fields ruled that the law implies that medical marijuana patients are able to sell to other patients. Additionally, to obtain a conviction the state must prove not only was something of value transferred between the two parties, but that it ALSO knowingly caused the recipient to obtain more than the total allowed amount of marijuana. Without both of these, a conviction is difficult.
Judge Fields dismissed the entire case, on the grounds that law just wasn’t clear enough. Enjoy the vagueness while you can because after all this controversy, clarification is surely on the way.

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