Tag Archives: Arizona

Arizona court: Hashish not included in medical marijuana law

Image result for hashish

An Arizona court has ruled that medical marijuana patients can still face arrest when in possession of hashish because it isn’t mentioned or included by name in a voter-approved pot initiative passed in 2010.

The Arizona Court of Appeals handed down the decision Tuesday in the case of Rodney Jones, a cardholder in the state’s medical marijuana program who was arrested in March 2013 at a Prescott hotel and indicted on a count each of cannabis possession and drug paraphernalia possession.

Police said at the time they had found Jones had 0.05 ounces of hashish in a jar, according to the appeals court ruling. After spending a year in jail, Jones waived his right to a jury trial in the case. He was later convicted and sentenced to more than two years in prison with credit for time served.

In his appeal, Jones had sought to have his conviction and sentence overturned by the court. But two of the judges on the three-member appeals court panel rejected his request, saying that the state’s medical marijuana act approved in 2010 “is silent” on hashish.

“If the drafters wanted to immunize the possession of hashish they should have said so,” the ruling said. “We cannot conclude that Arizona voters intended to do so.”

Hashish is a resin extracted from cannabis plants, and it is often used in oils and other medical marijuana products that are a part of the nation’s burgeoning, multibillion pot market.

The ruling had found that hashish is recognized under state law as a narcotic distinct from marijuana by the Legislature because of its potency levels.

Jones’ attorney did not immediately return a call requesting comment Wednesday.

Sarah Mayhew, who represented the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice in supporting Jones in the lawsuit, said the parties would appeal the case to the Arizona Supreme Court.

“There are several things in this ruling that are just flat-out wrong,” said Mayhew, also an attorney in the Pima County Public Defender’s office.

She said the court had sought to apply marijuana and cannabis definitions in the state’s criminal code to the language drafted by medical marijuana advocates in the 2010 ballot initiative.

Voters had approved the medical marijuana act in order to provide broad protections to people seeking to access pot for medicinal reasons, she said.

By taking this step, the court narrowed the intent of the voters, Mayhew argued.

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A Maricopa County nonprofit that makes much of its money off low-level marijuana offenders would take a big financial hit if Arizona voters legalize marijuana in November

Potential Marijuana Legalization in Arizona Threatens TASC Drug Treatment Firm's Funding

The Treatment Assessment Screening Center, better known as TASC, contracts with the county to provide six months of mandatory drug-treatment services for first- or second-time offenders who get busted for possession of illegal drugs. TASC participants, with exceptions for low-income offenders, pay their own way for the program

If Arizonans vote "yes" on the Colorado-style legalization measure expected to be on the ballot next year, it would have huge effect on TASC, the nonprofit’s CEO, Doug Kramer, acknowledges. TASC would need to seek out other court-ordered funding sources "to counter the loss of operating revenue," Kramer says.

TASC is "akin to a for-profit prison." — Tom Dean, a metro Phoenix lawyer who specializes in cannabis cases.

The financial loss also could jeopardize a new TASC initiative that provides grants to local nonprofit groups working to fight substance abuse, he says.

While legalization might make it harder for TASC to stay in business, cannabis consumers won’t miss the program.

As New Times reported earlier this month, experts believe that just 12 percent to 16 percent of people who smoke marijuana regularly meet the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for dependency. That is, the vast majority of marijuana users aren’t addicted and don’t need treatment for their use of their plant, yet they’re still treated like hard drug abusers under the law. 

"TASC is government-run, taxpayer-funded legal extortion," Yelp user A.W. of Granada Hills, California, wrote online in 2014. "I live in Cali (and) had a bong confiscated in AZ… now I have to jump through hoops to avoid a class-6 felony on my record." The user concluded his review with angry-sounding f-bombs.

In Arizona, which has one of the strictest possession laws in the country, getting caught with the tiniest amount of weed — and no valid medical-marijuana card — usually results in a trip to jail and an initial felony charge. In Maricopa County, prosecutors typically offer to drop the felony charge in exchange for submitting to the TASC adult-diversion program. Cannabis offenders are then required to attend an anti-drug class and submit to urine tests for six months. Testing positive for marijuana or other substances during the program means extra fees for the defendant; people who repeatedly fail drugs are kicked out of the program and usually prosecuted for a misdemeanor.

Although Arizona passed a drug-reform law in 1996 that prohibits a sentence of jail or prison for first- or second-time drug offenders, TASC has been around since 1977. The county contracted with TASC in 1989, offering a program for marijuana offenders that’s similar to the one still offered today.

Potential Marijuana Legalization in Arizona Threatens TASC Drug Treatment Firm's Funding (2)

In the county’s fiscal year 2015, which ended in July, 2,591 people successfully completed TASC and 1,996 — or about 77 percent —  were marijuana offenders.

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The County Attorney’s Office could not provide statistics that detail how many TASC referrals involved possession of fewer than six plants for cultivation, or less than an ounce of marijuana, both of which would be legal under the proposed ballot measure. But it’s safe to say that of the 77 percent of marijuana cases TASC handled in fiscal year 2015, most would disappear.

TASC declined to state the general cost to a marijuana offender for the program, but Tom Dean, a local attorney who works with marijuana defendants, says — including urinanalysis — it  runs about $1,300 per person.

Dean notes that the program is a monopoly with captured clientele.

Attorney Tom Dean

Attorney Tom Dean

arizonamarijuanalaw.com

TASC is "akin to a for-profit prison in that regard," he says.

While TASC soaks marijuana offenders because of the state’s draconian cannabis laws, online tax records show that TASC executives use that money to reward themselves with lavish salaries. As New Times reports today, former TASC CEO Barbara Zugor, one of the founders, has been making $360,000 to $476,000 annually for the last several years, records show.

Jerry Cobb, spokesman for County Attorney Bill Montgomery, took offense to a recent New Times article that states how the County Attorney’s Office "forced" a cannabis consumer to quit cold turkey for six months.

"To say that she was forced is wrong," Cobb fumed. "It’s a cheap attention-getter."

The woman, a 23-year-old waitress, "was not forced to have a felony dismissed from her record," he says. "A defendant can choose not to participate in drug treatment."

Although the article makes it clear that the woman was given the choice that Cobb mentions, it’s really not much of a choice. By initially charging a marijuana offense as a felony, Montgomery’s office leverages TASC participation against, on conviction, getting stripped of the right to vote and getting banned from owning firearms.

Also the implied threat is that once convicted of such a crime, there is a lifetime of lost earning potential. 

Lawyer Mel McDonald, former Arizona U.S. Attorney and a supporter of legal medical marijuana, says he appreciates being able to offer his clients the TASC option.

"[Marijuana] is still against the law and [Montgomery] has the right to prosecute," McDonald says. "He’s been extremely fair in giving people charged with marijuana an ‘out.’"

Brad Carlyon, Navajo County Attorney, offers marijuana offenders an easier deal than counterparts Bill Montgomery and Sheila Polk.

Brad Carlyon, Navajo County Attorney, offers marijuana offenders an easier deal than counterparts Bill Montgomery and Sheila Polk.

navajocountyaz.gov

Yet it’s also true that Montgomery could use his discretion as a prosecutor to further ease the punishment of marijuana offenders, as prosecutors have done in other Arizona counties.

Montgomery’s not required by any statute to make marijuana users go to TASC as part of the deferred-prosecution deals he approves. The 1996 reform law, Proposition 200, requires that people convicted of drug possession go through a drug-treatment program. But under a deferred prosecution, there is no conviction.

As Dean points out, Navajo County requires cannabis offenders to pay $750, perform community service, and sign up for an online workbook about drugs — no drug testing at all is required. Coconino County goes one better, Dean says, charging offenders $400.

Montgomery, he says, runs the strictest anti-marijuana prosecution in the state by using an initial felony charge while most prosecutors charge low-level pot offenders with a misdemeanor.

This shouldn’t be surprising, since Montgomery is one of the most vocal anti-cannabis activists in the state.

Another pot-prohibitionist, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk,seems to have turned a personal bias against marijuana into official agency policy. Polk doesn’t offer deferred prosecutions but allows marijuana offenders to accept a misdemeanor conviction in return for staying clean during 18 months of urine testing.

Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon tells New Times that he chooses not to require drug testing for marijuana offenders because it would take too long for people to drive to testing services in the rural county —  and because "people don’t have money here."

TASC signed a contract in 2009 with the county to provide services until February 2016. The county hasn’t yet asked TASC to bid for another contract, and TASC hasn’t requested a new contract, says Fields Moseley, a county spokesman.

It’s unclear whether TASC will continue to offer the program. But Moseley says TASC doesn’t need to ink a contract with the county to keep doing what it does, since TASC participants pay for their participation.

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Lexology Report: Congress temporarily de-funds US-DOJ medical marijuana prosecution but does not legalize medical marijuana

  • Littler Mendelson
  • Dale L. Deitchler

     

    • USA
    • December 30 2014

     

    Dale L. Deitchler Author page »

    In a few short paragraphs within the 1,603-page congressional spending bill signed into law on December 16, 2014, Congress prohibited the U.S. Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute users, growers and distributors of medical marijuana in states that have enacted medical marijuana statutes.  The full text of the de-funding rider barring the DOJ from the use of funds to “prevent. . . implementation” of state and local laws legalizing medical marijuana states:

    Sec. 538. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

    Sec. 539. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (“Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Several U.S. Supreme Court decisions have upheld prosecution of medical marijuana growers and users under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  Nevertheless, the Obama Administration, as a matter of policy, has directed the DOJ to take a relaxed approach to prosecution and the DOJ has done so, except for use that impacts the DOJ’s “enforcement priorities” (e.g., preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels).  This new de-funding measure now codifies that policy approach as law.  (Notably, the rider does not affect IRS or Treasury Department actions relating to payment of taxes by marijuana suppliers and online banking).

    The legislation, however, does not legalize medical marijuana.  Rather, the federal ban on marijuana continues – i.e., both medical and recreational marijuana continue to be illegal under CSA Schedule I.  And, though de-funding may affect enforcement of criminal laws in states with medical marijuana statutes, it has no effect in states that have not legalized marijuana, nor does it express any limitations on employer action on the basis of a positive marijuana test result administered under a workplace drug testing policy.  Finally, the rider expires on September 30, 2015, and may or may not be renewed heading into the heart of the presidential election campaign in the fall of 2015.  For all of these reasons, though significant in reflecting current legislators’ thinking at the national level regarding CSA enforcement, the mere enactment of the spending bill with this provision does not warrant adjustment to drug testing policies of employers choosing to continue to treat confirmed positive marijuana test results as positive even when the result was caused by medicinal use that is lawful under state or local law.

    CONTINUE READING…

  • Federal Spending Bill Blocks Funding For Medical Marijuana Raids, Legalization In D.C.

    The proposed congressional budget released Tuesday night prevents the Department of Justice from using funds to undermine state laws regarding medical marijuana.

    posted on Dec. 9, 2014, at 9:20 p.m.

    Michelle Broder Van Dyke BuzzFeed News Reporter

     

    The House budget passed Tuesday night prevents the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to interfere with state laws that legalize medical marijuana.

    The amendment was introduced by California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, and Sam Farr, a Democrat, and was approved by the House of Representatives in May. It implies that DEA raids on medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal will stop.

    The budget Senate proposal — which must still go back to the House for a full vote before it lands on President Obama’s desk — would keep all but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) operating normally through the end of the fiscal year in 2015.

    The compromise bill was approved with Republicans agreeing to put off a fight with Obama over his immigration policies until February, when funding for the DHS is slated to run out, the Associated Press reported.

    The bill’s Section 538, which addresses medical marijuana, reads:

    None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

    The bill also includes a section that protects industrial hemp cultivation.

    None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (”Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

    Marijuana advocates were pleased with the bill.

    Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, said in statement to BuzzFeed News: “Congressional leaders seem to have finally gotten the message that a supermajority of Americans wants states to be able to implement sensible marijuana reforms without federal interference.”

    Angell also urged the Obama administration to use this opportunity to “reschedule marijuana immediately.” Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it’s a dangerous narcotic with no accepted medical use. Heroin and LSD are also classified Schedule I, while cocaine and methamphetamine are Schedule II, a lower ranking.

    Advocates say reclassifying the drug would allow for state and federal laws to be in sync, and conserve law enforcement resources. It would also ease access to research of the drug and tension between banks and marijuana retailers.

    Erik Altieri, communication director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also released a statement that said: “By restricting these agencies in this manner, the nearly two dozen states that implemented medical marijuana programs can hopefully breathe easier knowing federal money won’t be spent to interfere with their progress. We hope this leads to further reforms at the federal level further enshrining this sentiment into law.”

    The bill also effectively blocks the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Washington, D.C., but preserves its decriminalization law.

    Voters in Washington, D.C., overwhelmingly passed a recreational marijuana referendum on the November ballot, which is now effectively blocked. The District passed a decriminalization bill in April that will remain intact.

    The proposed bill’s appropriations section, which allocates millions in funds to the district, states:

    “None of the Federal funds contained in this Act may be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.”

    Unlike most states, Washington, D.C., doesn’t take in any local revenue that it can spend and receives all of its funding from the federal government, so the ban on using funds for legalization effectively blocks the referendum voters recently passed.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said of the rider: “I’m opposed to what the House is trying to do.”

    “If they put it in there, it’s going to be hard to take it out over here,” he added.

    Marijuana advocates in Washington D.C. and those who advocate for the district’s autonomy were not pleased. D.C. Cannabis Campaign, which sponsored the ballot measure to legalize weed, tweeted the following:

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    Why Potential Marijuana Investors Should Study Wiretapping

    Rich Smith       Aug 4th 2014 9:22AM

    Once upon a time, AT&T (T) urged its customers to “reach out and touch someone” with a long-distance phone call (which Ma Bell could charge extra for at the time). Those were simpler times.
    Today, in our post-9/11 world, if you reach out by phone, you may end up touching more people than you bargain for. And those people may have guns, badges and court-approved wiretap warrants.

    Top States for Wiretapping
    This is especially true in Nevada, Colorado, California and New York. A recent report by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts said these four states issue the majority of wiretap authorizations in America (measured proportionate to their populations):

    • Nevada authorized 38.2 wiretap authorizations per 500,000 residents
    • Colorado authorized 12.4 per 500,000
    • California authorized 11.7 per 500,000
    • And New York State authorized 10.7 per 500,000

    Rounding out the top 10 states for state-sanctioned wiretapping are Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri and New Jersey — in that order. In each state, state and federal law enforcement sought and received authorizations to conduct more than six wiretaps per 500,000 residents. (In case you were wondering, that office points out that it is not authorized to collect and report data on NSA wiretaps regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978).
    According to Pew Research, which analyzed the report, 90 percent of the wiretaps authorized in 2013 were authorized to investigate “criminal drug-related offenses.”
    The 3,576 total wiretaps authorized resulted in 3,744 arrests (more than the number of wiretaps authorized). But the conviction rate from these wiretaps was less than 19 percent — just 709 convictions. (Curiously, AO also notes that in all of 2013, only one application for a wiretap was turned down.)
    If that sounds bad, it is. According to a 2010 annual statistical report filed by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for United States Attorneys, the average conviction rate in the federal criminal judicial system for that year was 93 percent.

    What It Means to Investors
    But we digress. To find out how all of this may be relevant to investors, let’s return to the 90 percent figure. You’ll notice that while Nevada is the No. 1 state for wiretapping, No. 2 is Colorado — a state which in January decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana.
    Now, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the opportunities that marijuana legalization — first in Colorado, and more recently in Washington state — might offer for investors. Over the past year, shares of GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) have risen more than eight times, and microcap Advanced Cannabis Solutions (CANN) have more than tripled in value. Small cap Medical Marijuana (MJNA) has risen 50 percent.
    Still, the fact remains that even if individual states are beginning to move toward legalization, the federal government and its Drug Enforcement Administrationstill consider marijuana an illegal drug, period. Until this changes, the fear of federal prosecution of a state-legal drug therefore still hangs over this industry.
    Reading the Tea Leaves at the DEA
    What will be our first clue that the DEA has begun backing off enforcement of drug laws in places like Colorado, where the state strictures are loosening? It could be this AO report we’ve been talking about up above. Let’s quickly run back down the list of what we know:

    • Colorado is one of the states most active in issuing state and federal wiretap authorizations.
    • Nine out of 10 such wiretaps concern drug offenses.
    • Colorado no longer finds marijuana as offensive as it used to.

    It will be interesting to watch what happens to Colorado’s rank on the list of most frequent wiretappers when the AO issues its report on 2014 wiretap authorizations next summer. If Colorado falls a lot from No. 2, this could mean that law enforcement has decided to back off from prosecuting (at least marijuana-related) drug offenses in the state.
    Such a development would bode well for marijuana stocks as more and more states vote to legalize, suggesting the DEA will bow to local interpretations of the drug laws.
    If, on the other hand, Colorado continues to rank highly in the wiretap ratings — look out. That will be our first clue that the heat is still on.

    Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned either.

    CONTINUE READING…

    PLEASE READ THIS…IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

    My name is Karen Ross-Glaser. I am a disabled 43 year-old single mother, who is trying to provide a better life for my family, away from the abuse we suffered in Michigan. We recently relocated to Arizona 3 years ago, due to a domestic violence situation. The children and I all suffer from PTSD, while the younger children have additional health issues. I am working with many agencies including counseling services to help the family heal.

                    Recently, I was arrested and mistaken for someone else due to an Identity Theft issue. (http://www.kvoa.com/news/identity-theft-plagues-southern-arizona-residents/). Fifteen of my Civil rights were violated, including my disability act rights. Upon returning home a CPS investigator told myself and witnesses (CarrieAnn Mick and Charlie Warren) that they had taken my children into custody and I needed to sign a form giving CPS temporary three day custody of Elizabeth (16) and David (15). In shock and breaking down, my friend CarrieAnn holding me from collapsing.  I could barely see through my tears and I signed the paper without reading it.

                    Later I realized that the form I previously signed was giving custody to CPS and that they are charging me with neglect and failure to protect; due to being incarcerated overnight, and the children being left unattended. Once CPS learned they were in the wrong and that the children did have supervision, even though they are old enough to be on their own. CPS then charged me with Substance abuse of marijuana (I am a legal Medical Marijuana card holder). CPS then ordered my oldest son and wife to not allow me contact with my newborn grandson.

                    The children have been in custody since January 28th. Our counseling has been stopped and they haven’t arranged any visits for us. The courts ordered our counseling to continue and weekly visits to be given, yet CPS hasn’t complied. Since the children were placed in foster care they have been missing twice, skipped school a few times, been in a fight which resulted in a suspension from school and CPS has even allowed my son David who has a closed head injury to join a boxing group. Since the children have been gone, my disability has been cut and assessed child support. I am now at risk of losing our home. I am doing everything I can to raise the funds to hire the attorneys needed to handle this case. I have had to take in renters to help cover expenses and stay afloat. Yet, I am still struggling and haven’t been able to retain an attorney. While time is running out!

                    I am being wrongfully accused and have the documentation to prove my innocents. I am fighting for my family, to clear my name, get my children back and save our home. I am desperate and pleading for any and all help that the public can give us!

    *PLEASE HELP ME SAVE MY FAMILY*

    The problem with this situation trying to find legal help is that it is so widespread and complicated. I’ve been told I need a team of different types of lawyers to handle everything involved;

    -Family Law Attorney/Dependency Attorney

    -Criminal Lawyer/Identity Theft/MMJ Attorney

    -Bankruptcy/Tax

    -Personal Injury Attorney

    -Civil Rights Attorney

    -Civil Attorney

    -ADA Attorney

    – See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/please-help-to-save-my-family/161606#sthash.L1tvj4hc.dpuf

     

     

     

    Holler out to FRIENDS and FAMILY~ EVERYONE;
    For ALL of you that didn’t know… I am going on trial in less than 2 weeks. On May 1st, I face the judge on the charges against me. I pray that justice will prevail. I have done everything I could think of within my power, to bring the truth to light. I still don’t have the means to afford the attorneys needed to clear my name and bring my kids home.
    I am letting you all know because I refuse to let this be. I am INNOCENT!
    I may be gone soon and these post, over the next week may be my only voice left. PLEASE let my story be known.
    *Take a moment to check this out; if you can… Everything helps
    ATTORNEY’s ARE NEEDED!
    Click on the Help and donation sites for case information and updates that includes photo evidence.
    http://fnd.us/c/ejlN4/sh/5eoIf
    NBC kvoa link to story of my Identity theft and the Severity of it.
    http://www.kvoa.com/news/identity-theft-plagues-southern-arizona-residents/
    This is NOT A SCAM! I am desperate…
    PLEASE Help save my children & clear name.
    http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/please-help-to-save-my-family/161606
    Thanks and Love, Karen Ross-Glaser Photography
    http://www.gofundme.com/7zvo4o

    PLEASE Help Karen save her children & clear name!

    Kids taken CPS custody, Identity stolen & accused of being a substance abuser of Medical marijuana while being a legal card holder in AZ. Anything you can do is greatly appreciated. PLEASE share to everyone you know.Thanks in advance. My name is Karen …

    fundrazr.com