It’s been seven years since the state of Arizona narrowly voted the AMMA (Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) into effect, which legalized both the possession and use of marijuana for specific medical conditions. Although the law went into effect in 2010, many Arizona residents are still confused about what, exactly, the law says concerning medical marijuana. Knowing the letter of the law is essential to avoid being penalized, as well as to protecting your rights. This quick primer will provide you with the basic information you need to know about medical marijuana in Arizona.
Medical Marijuana Eligibility in Arizona
When the AMMA was first launched, the state of Arizona laid down some very specific guidelines pertaining to who is eligible to obtain and use medical marijuana and to set limits regarding the possession of cannabis. If you are unsure about your adherence to any of these guidelines, it’s in your best interest to consult with an expert at Schill Law Group.
First, the law mandates that those in possession of a medical marijuana card have a “debilitating medical condition.” Arizona Revised Statutes 36-2801 define such a medical condition as being related to:
- HIV Positive
- Immune Deficiency Syndrome
- Hepatitis C
- Crohn’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Chronic or Debilitating Condition
In addition to this, the AMMA also sets forth several other requirements and limitations:
- All patients and caregivers must be fingerprinted and may not be a registered felon. In the event that a cardholder is convicted of a felony, his or her eligibility will be revoked.
- Cardholders are only able to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana (including cannabis-infused edibles).
- Medical marijuana may not legally be possessed or used near or on school grounds, correctional facilities, or public places.
- Medical marijuana patients may legally cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants in a closed, locked facility IF the patient lives more than 25 miles from a certified marijuana dispensary.
Medical Marijuana Registration in Arizona
The state of Arizona still considers marijuana to be a controlled substance. As such, marijuana is strictly regulated. On top of qualifying for medical marijuana use through the presence of a debilitating medical condition, you are legally required to register for an identification card. You must submit written certification from your treating physician within 90 days of submitting your application for a medical marijuana ID card, and you will need to pay all applicable fees and sign an agreement not to divert marijuana to another party.
Legal Issues Surrounding Medical Marijuana in Arizona
Possessing a medical marijuana card in Arizona does not make you immune to the law. You can be arrested and penalized for possessing more than the legal limit, cultivating marijuana outside the scope of the law, attempting to sell medical marijuana to someone else, “holding” or using pot in prohibited areas, etc.
Of course, there are still some kinks and “gray areas” being worked out in the Arizona court system. Recently, an Arizona appellate court ruled that a 2012 state law which prohibited the use of medical marijuana on college campuses is, in fact, unconstitutional. The case arose as the result of a young man having been arrested and charged with a felony possession for having medical cannabis in his dorm room. Although the charges were eventually dropped to a misdemeanor, the defendant appealed the judgment. Ultimately, the appellate court determined that the 2012 law is contradictory to the AMMA, and the charges were thrown out, all as the result of strong legal representation.