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Arizona’s Proposition 205 -Legalization of Marijuana 

Arizona-Marijuana-Laws-1-300x201If Prop 205 passes, marijuana does not become instantly legal statewide. Sales of cannabis could begin as soon as March 1, 2018. The proposition establishes the creation of a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control that would be responsible for licensing and regulating retail stores as well as entities involved in growing, manufacturing, distributing, and testing marijuana products. The governor would appoint the director as well as the seven members of the Marijuana Commission—four of whom would have no financial stake in a marijuana establishment and three with a “controlling” interest in a marijuana establishment.

Cannabis would only be sold at shops licensed by the state, and the number of licensed marijuana retail stores would be capped at 10 percent of the number of Series 9 liquor store licenses. Localities would have the power to impose limits on where and when marijuana businesses are allowed to operate. People could also give marijuana to other people, provided that the amount involved is not more than one ounce, there is no money exchanged, and the gift is not publicly advertised.

Prop 205 would also implement a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales. While tax revenue will go to the Department of Revenue to fund the implementation and enforcement of regulations, 80 percent of the additional revenue would be allocated for the Department of Education (half of which would be for school construction, maintenance, and operating costs, and the other half for full-day kindergarten programs) and 20 percent would be allocated to the Department of Health Services for public education efforts.

Arizona has seen aggressive campaigns both in support of and against Prop 205. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a national marijuana policy reform organization, has been the primary funder for the legalization campaign while business groups like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and other organizations have supported anti-Prop 205 campaigns.

Marijuana Arrests Under Current State Law in Arizona

If Prop 205 passes, it will not make marijuana usable in public. Passage would, however, presumably lead to a significant reduction in the number of cannabis-related arrests in Arizona. According to annual reports compiled by the Access Integrity Unit of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, thousands of people have been arrested for marijuana offenses every year over the past decade:

Year Marijuana Possession Sale or Manufacturing of Marijuana
2015 15,291 1,071
2014 16,177 1,416
2013 16,656 1,580
2012 15,001 1,499
2011 16,416 1,756
2010 18,076 1,659
2009 20,378 1,608
2008 18,689 1,413
2007 17,887 1,645
2006 16,767 1,476

Legalizing recreational possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would help numerous people avoid what can be significant potential consequences under current state law. Right now, alleged offenders who are accused of certain crimes involving one ounce or less of cannabis can face the following charges under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-3405:

  • Possession of Marijuana — Class 6 felony punishable by up to two years in prison;
  • Production of Marijuana — Class 5 felony punishable by up to 2.5 years in prison; and
  • Transportation or Importation of Marijuana for Sale — Class 3 felony punishable by up to 8.75 years in prison. 

It is important to remember that despite its medicinal benefits for people suffering from certain ailments, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Schedule I controlled substances are supposedly drugs, substances, or chemicals that are defined “as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” People facing federal charges related to marijuana offenses in Arizona can be subject to even longer prison sentences and bigger fines.

Arizona Medical Marijuana Laws

Medical-Marijuana-300x200Arizona is among the half of the states in the nation that have legalized cannabis for medical use. In 2010, voters approved Proposition 203, more commonly known as the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). Under AMMA, approved patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary every two weeks and possess up to 2.5 ounces at any time. Certain approved patients are allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants or find a caregiver to grow the cannabis for them.

Medical conditions that qualify patients for medical marijuana include:

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS);
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS);
  • Cancer;
  • Crohn’s Disease;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Hepatitis C;
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV); or
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment for a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that causes cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy), or severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.

If Prop 205 passes on November 8, the medical marijuana program would continue as is. Responsibility for regulation of the program, however, would shift from the Arizona Department of Health Services to a new department in September 2017.

What to Do if You are Arrested for Marijuana in Arizona 

handcuffs-Arrest-Mesa-AZ1-294x300If you are arrested for any kind of cannabis-related offense in Arizona after the Prop 205 vote, you should not say anything to authorities without legal representation. Many drug-related crimes involve violations of alleged offenders’ constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Marijuana arrests may stem from routine traffic stops in which alleged offenders allow police officers to search their vehicles. The discovery of even a small amount of cannabis can lead to people facing felony charges. The amount in question plays an important role in determining the severity of the criminal charges.

Under state law in Arizona, the “threshold amount” for marijuana is two pounds. Any amount exceeding the threshold can be legally presumed to be intended for sale. When the element of an intent to sell marijuana is added to criminal charges, it not only leads to more serious criminal charges but also more aggressive prosecution.

Alleged offenders who have no previous convictions for drug-related offenses may be eligible for deferred prosecution in marijuana possession cases. With deferred prosecution, alleged offenders who successfully complete all terms of the probation they are placed on may be able to have the criminal charges dropped.

On the other hand, alleged offenders who have been previously convicted of drug-related offenses will typically face felony charges that carry steep consequences. In addition to possible prison sentences and orders to pay significant fines, felony convictions can carry lifelong consequences. People convicted of felony offenses can experience enormous difficulty obtaining employment, housing, or professional licenses.

Criminal Defense Lawyer for Alleged Marijuana Crimes in Mesa, AZ

James-Novak-Criminal-Defense-Attorney-Mesa-AZ-300x236It is in the best interest of any person arrested for an alleged marijuana crime to immediately retain legal counsel. The Law Office of James E. Novak aggressively defends clients throughout the greater Maricopa County area.

James Novak is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Mesa who has handled these types of cases on both sides of the aisle. As a former prosecutor in Maricopa County, he can identify the weaknesses in a prosecutor’s case and fight to possibly have criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

The Law Office of James E. Novak is committed to helping people charged with possession, sale, or cultivation of marijuana achieve the most favorable outcomes to their criminal cases. Our lawyer represents clients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, and many surrounding areas of Maricopa County.

You can have our attorney provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (480) 413-1499 or complete an online contact form today to schedule a fee, confidential consultation.

Additional Resources

Additional Articles of Interest

 

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Entrapment Defense in ArizonaUnderstanding Arizona Affirmative Defenses

One of the best ways to understand the entrapment defense in Arizona is to read the standard jury instructions. Arizona Pattern Jury Instructions for criminal cases tracks the language of A.R.S. § 13-206 and provides:

The defendant has raised the affirmative defense of entrapment with respect to the charged offenses. In this case the defendant must prove the following by clear and convincing evidence:

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Marijuana Odor Establishes Probable CauseArizona Cannabis Laws, Penalties, Criminal Defense

Police officers have long used the alleged scent of marijuana as an excuse to perform searches of alleged offenders’ motor vehicles when they refuse to consent to such searches. After the two divisions of the Arizona Court of Appeals came to different conclusions about the legality of the “plain smell doctrine”—the proposition that the smell of cannabis alone provides probable cause, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to review of one of the cases.

The alleged offenders in both cases argued that the odor of marijuana no longer suffices to establish probable cause after the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) in 2010. “We granted review because whether AMMA affects the determination of probable cause based on the odor of marijuana is a recurring issue of statewide importance,” the Arizona Supreme Court wrote in its decision in State Of Arizona v. Ronald James Sisco II, No. CR-15-0265-PR.

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Supreme Court Domestic Violence

Arizona Domestic Violence Laws, Penalties, Criminal Defense

The Lautenberg Amendment in Title 18 U.S. Code § 922(g)(9) prohibits shipment, transport, ownership and use of guns or ammunition by individuals who were convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense or are under a protection order (commonly referred to as a restraining order) for domestic violence. The amendment was enacted in 1996 and has been the subject of numerous court challenges.

On June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court further clarified that even convictions for reckless domestic assault can be construed as domestic violence offenses that prohibit firearm possession. The 6-2 decision resolved lingering questions about the nature of misdemeanor domestic violence convictions than can lead to loss of firearm rights.

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Overview of Arizona DUI Trends, Laws, Penalties, and Criminal Defense

http://blog.novakazlaw.com/files/2017/01/Statue-of-Liberty.-4jpg-283x300.jpgIf you live in Arizona or plan to drive in the state over the July 4th weekend it is important to be aware of the DUI laws and consequences of a conviction.

According to media reports, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona will increase DUI patrols over the July 4th weekend. Starting Friday, July 1, 2016 law enforcement, including the Phoenix and Tempe police departments, will have an increased presence throughout Maricopa County looking for drivers impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.

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DEA danger warnings; Arizona Laws, Facts, Trends, and Criminal Defense

Novak-Fentanyl-Blog-300x300The National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported this year that the USA is facing drug overdose deaths in epidemic proportions.

In the data collected by the CDC, it was concluded that overdoses increased 137 percent over the last decade.

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Mesa Police Department Squad CarOne of least understood and most commonly charged crimes in Arizona is “Failure to Comply with a Lawful Order” in violation of Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) section 28-622(A). The crime is classified as a class 2 misdemeanor. The statute provides:

28-622. Failure to comply with police officer…

  1. A person shall not wilfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of a police officer invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic. (“Willful” and its variations are spelled “wilful” in the statute, an accepted but archaic spelling in American English.)
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Medical Marijuana and PrescriptionsOn November 20, 2015, the Supreme Court of Arizona decided Dobson v. McClennen (P.3d, 2015 WL 7353847, Arizona Supreme Court 2015). The decision has important implications for individuals that use medical marijuana and might have THC or its metabolite in their system but drive at a time when they are not impaired. Jokingly called the “Driving While a Habitual User of Marijuana,” these prosecutions are no joke.

Although the responsible use of cannabis for medical purposes has largely been decriminalized in Arizona, prior to this decision the DUI laws effectively made it a crime to drive as a medical marijuana patient (even after the impairing effects faded and disappeared). In other words, using medical marijuana should not automatically be a DUI when there was no actual impairment at the time of driving.

The decision in Dobson v. McClennen didn’t make either side happy. The defense wanted a ruling that Medical Marijuana Patients were immune from the “per se” version of DUI under § 28–1381(A)(3). On the other hand, the prosecution wanted a ruling that a positive blood test meant an automatic “per se” DUI conviction under § 28–1381(A)(3). The Court rejected both positions and came up with a middle ground that leaves many of the complicated issues surrounding driving after consuming medical marijuana unresolved.

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Plus 3 Safety Tips for Drivers to Begin Your Year-End Holiday Festivities  

halloween final 1563652-1280x960This holiday season we wish to remind Arizona drivers that the new ban on Texting and Driving in Tempe AZ is in effect.

Tempe joined Phoenix, AZ, and several other cities to ban texting and driving with what is being called the toughest law in the State.

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Four defenses used to challenge flakka and other synthetic drug charges in Arizona; laws, penalties; and what you need to know about Flakka. 

pills-tablets-3-1524565Each day we are learning more about the deadly effects of the new street drug “flakka” – a drug described as being so dangerous, that even dealers and those suffering from drug addictions are afraid to use it.

The DEA reported an alarming 780 percent increase in cases over the last three years, largely due to its affordability and accessibility.