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Arizona Medical Marijuana Act

Thursday / March 19, 2015

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative (Proposition 203) was on the November 2, 2010 ballot as an initiated state statute. Arizona Medical Marijuana Question, Proposition 203 (2010), March 19, 2015, . According to the election results, 50.1% of voters approved Proposition 203, making Arizona the 15th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Although Proposition 203 was approved, it came with strict rules, as legislators were concerned with making a medical marijuana program and not a recreational marijuana program. .


Under A.R.S. § 36-2801, a qualifying patient is one with a “debilitating medical condition.” A few of the conditions listed are: cancer, glaucoma, HIV positive, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and agitation of Alzheimer’s disease. Other medical conditions or its treatment may be added by the department. The qualifying patient must have a valid identification card, issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services. A designated caregiver must be at least twenty-one years old, cannot assist more than five qualifying patients, may receive reimbursement for actual costs incurred in assisting qualified patients, and the caregiver may not have been convicted of an excluded felony offense. Some of these felonies include: a violent crime (defined in § 13-901.03, subsection B), and a violation of a state or federal controlled substance law. For more information about the specifics of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, visit:


One of the ongoing debates about the Act is whether or not medical marijuana will be taxed. State tax collectors claim that they plan to tax medical marijuana “since it is not a prescribed medicine.” State law exempts prescriptions from being taxed, but marijuana would be sold to patients with ‘certification’ from doctors, not with a prescription.” An analysis by the legislative budget staff stated that a medical marijuana tax could bring in about $1 million for the state’s General Fund in 2012. The Arizona State Senate approved of the tax on March 26. 2010, but thus far no further action has taken place.


The concept of federalism is the bigger issue when it comes to legalizing medical. Although many states have legalized the sale and consumption of medical marijuana under state law, the federal law has not changed: marijuana is considered a controlled substance and is illegal. Many lawful cardholders (an individual with a debilitating medical condition or a legal dispensary) worry about being prosecuted under federal law. Fortunately for these law-abiders, a federal memorandum was issued on October 19, 2009 by Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden, described by Andrew Myers, of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, as “the most important event that has happened in the medical-marijuana movement in the last 30 years.” Matthew Benson, Medical-pot rule may impact Ariz. initiative, The Arizona Republic, October 20, 2009, The federal memorandum was issued to federal prosecutors in states that allowed for the use of medical marijuana, stating that federal resources should not be focused on “individuals whose actions are in the clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Id. To the supporters of the legalization of medical marijuana, this kind of a statement represents a reversal of the anti-marijuana Bush administration, and more of a shift in policy. The memorandum also allows lawful cardholders to rest a bit easier, knowing it is unlikely a federal DEA agent will show up at their door. Id.


If you have more questions about the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act or if you or anyone you know has been charged with a crime, immediately seek an attorney’s help to ensure the accused’s rights are protected. To schedule a no obligation consultation with my office, visit my website at: or by calling me at 480-331-7568.

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