Published on:

Marijuana Arrests in the US: FBI Releases Compelling Statistics

“Arizona among other states that have legalized Medical Marijuana, have been prohibited from implementing the Medical Marijuana laws, due to Federal prohibition and fear of prosecution.   

The FBI recently released crime statistics for 2011 crime statistics in 2011. It was estimated that every 42 seconds a Marijuana arrest was made in the United States. Of those, 87% of those were for Marijuana possession. Over half of all illegal drug arrests made, were for possession of Marijuana.

Arizona is one of several states that legalized Medical Marijuana, but has been prohibited from implementing the Medical Marijuana laws, due Federal prohibition and prosecution.

Arizona legalized Medical Marijuana in 2010 by a majority ballot vote of the people. Since that time the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) spent significant economic resources to create guidelines, and help regulatory agencies implement the new Medical Marijuana laws. This, only to learn that Maricopa County Law Enforcement Offices seem to prosecute those businesses or individuals, buying, selling, distributing and growing Medical Marijuana.

As long as the Federal Government Prohibits use of Marijuana including Medical Marijuana, states such as Arizona will face legal battles.  According to the AZDHS at least 6 law suits have been filed over Medical Marijuana and are pending litigation. Among a variety of issues include the State’s refusal to issue proper certification and licensure to growers and distributors who otherwise qualified for permit rights. The matter will likely be settled in the highest court of the land, the United States Supreme Court, despite states like Arizona who voted to legalize it.

Arizona Marijuana Laws

Under Arizona Law A.R.S. § 13-3405 Possession, personal use, sales, transportation, distribution and production is prohibited. The law requires that the suspect must “knowingly” or “intentionally” be in possession, or be committing one of the other prohibited acts related to Marijuana.

Sentencing and penalties Marijuana possession convictions vary depending on at least five factors which include:

  • First time or repeat drug offense;
  • Amount or quantity found in the suspects possession, and whether or not it exceeded the statutory Threshold Amount;
  • Prior criminal history;
  • Age of persons involved in the offense;
  • Other crimes surrounding the Marijuana possession charges;
  • Mitigating or aggravated factors;
    • Whether or not the possession crime was dangerous, violent, or involved weapons offenses.

Many Possession of Marijuana or paraphernalia charges are classified as felonies especially if they exceed the Statutory Threshold Amount of 2 pounds or are repeat offenses. Possession in higher quantities is looked at by law enforcement as an indicator of “possession with intent to sell”; “possession for sale” or “possession for distribution, or trafficking for which long term prison sentencing may apply. Mandatory prison sentencing guidelines apply for possession of quantities in excess of 2 pounds, even for a first time offense.  Exorbitant fines of up to $in amounts $100,000.00 per defendant and up to $1 million for enterprises may be ordered in addition to other penalties.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Marijuana Charges

You should always consult an experienced marijuana defense attorney if you face possession charges, to discuss your options for defense. If retained, your lawyer will protect your rights and defend your charges. Their goal will be to provide you with qualified representation and secure the best possible resolution to your matter.

Additional Resources: