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Arizona: Supreme Court Affirms That Lawmakers Cannot Ban Medical Cannabis Access on College Campuses

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Arizona Medical Cannabis College Campuses

Phoenix, AZ: The Arizona Supreme Court has upheld an appellate court decision striking down a 2012 law that sought to forbid medical cannabis access on college campuses.

Lifetime NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean represented the patient-defendant in the case pro bono, and called the decision a "victory for democracy."

Justices opined that the 2012 law was unconstitutional because it impermissibly sought to amend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which voters passed in 2010. State law limits the legislature's ability to amend, repeal, or supersede voter-initiated laws.

"Because the AMMA sets forth a list of locations where the legislature may impose 'civil, criminal or other penalties' when a person possesses or uses marijuana, § 36-2802, and because that list does not include college and university campuses (unlike pre-, primary-, and secondary-school grounds), we assume that the voters did not intend to criminalize AMMA-compliant possession or use of marijuana on public college and university campuses," the court ruled. It further rejected the state's claim that a campus-wide ban was necessary in order to preserve universities' federal funding.

"If the State had prevailed, they could then have tampered with any and all ballot initiatives, past, present, and future," said Dean. "This is a victory for all Arizona voters and especially for medical marijuana patients."

The ruling sets aside the felony conviction of defendant Andrew Lee Maestas, who was initially charged and found guilty of the possession of 0.4 grams of marijuana despite his status as a state-registered medical cannabis patient.

For more information, contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500. The case is Arizona v Maestas, No. CR-17-0193-PR.