Arizona NORML is writing to urge your office to exercise restraint in the enforcement of cannabis violations against registered medical marijuana patients. By “cannabis”, we’re referring to the substance listed as a narcotic drug in the criminal code. Basically, cannabis is the extracted resin of the marijuana plant. As you know, last year, the Court of Appeals determined last year in State v. Jones that such extracts are not covered under the definition of usable marijuana in the AMMA.
Despite such charges being unauthorized by Jones, many attorneys agree that the case was wrongly decided and that the Supreme Court will overturn the decision. This became the consensus after oral arguments before the Supreme Court were held recently at which time the Court seemed to favor the argument that these substances are permitted under the AMMA and that, therefore, Jones was wrongly decided.
While it is impossible to predict with certainty what the Supreme Court will do, at a minimum it is fair to say that the issue is up in the air. In light of this situation, some jurisdictions, such as the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office have taken a “wait and see” approach and are not filing charges against patients until and unless the Supreme Court affirms the Jones decision.
We at AZ-NORML urge you to adopt such a policy so that patients with severe and debilitating medical conditions are not unnecessarily dragged through the stressful and expensive process of criminal prosecution. The Supreme Court will likely render its decision in the next 4 months or so, so there will still be plenty of time to file charges against patients should the Supreme Court affirm Jones. We only ask that you exercise prosecutorial discretion for the next few months until we find out what the final decision is on this important issue. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.
–signed Tom Dean, AZ-NORML legal counsel and Mikel Weisser, AZ-NORML state director