Defending Pot 

The doctor is back to update us on an important MMJ legal case out of Pima County

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The landscape in the Arizona medical cannabis industry is rapidly changing, and after four and a half years the legal system in our great state is beginning to catch up to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Brave citizens that have been charged with felonies have made the tough decision to take their cases to trial rather than try to plea bargain for a lesser sentence and the avoidance of a felony record.

One such Defendant is Jeremy Matlock whose case has been big news in Arizona. He was charged with sales of a controlled substance after he sold several cannabis plants to an undercover police officer who had presented him with an Arizona Medical Marijuana card. Matlock took his case to trial in Pima County and was found not guilty by Judge Richard Fields. This decision appeared to make clear the legal issues surrounding patient-to-patient sales of their medical cannabis products. It appeared that these transfers were legitimate, but not so fast in the conservative political environment of Arizona.

The prosecutors appealed this verdict to the State Supreme Court and in a decision released last week the case was overturned 3-0. This is a huge blow to the 60,000 plus MMJ patients in Arizona, and I am sure Matlock is reeling as well as he will face another trial during which he will be prohibited from using an affirmative defense. That is he will not be allowed to use the defense that his actions were covered under the AMMA. Needless to say it does not look good for Matlock.

All hope is not lost, the argument made by Matlock and his public defender may not have included all of the relevant issues. Amateur legal scholar Billy Hayes Jr. plans to raise the neglected issues in a Maricopa County courtroom sometime in the future for the charges he faces resulting from his role in the operation of a private vape lounge in Phoenix.

The science surrounding cannabis therapeutics continues to thrive. Cannabis is non-toxic, no one has ever died from cannabis use. The only harms cannabis causes to society and its users are due to its prohibition. Because cannabis is illegal there exists a black market, and similar to the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s this creates a market opportunity filled by organized crime. We learned then and we are learning now that prohibition does not work.


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