Arizona Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Legal on College Campuses


In a major win for medical cannabis patients in Arizona, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that public college students with medical cards cannot face criminal charges for possessing or using marijuana on campus. The court ruled against a 2012 law that banned cannabis on public higher education institutions, finding it unconstitutional and a violation of voters’ intent. The court’s ruling also vacated the cannabis possession charge of the student who fought the law—and won.

How One Student Fought To Allow Medical Cannabis at College

Arizona voters approved the state’s medical marijuana program in 2010. Originally, the law placed prohibitions on having and using cannabis on preschool and elementary school campuses, school buses and prisons. But the law did not restrict medical cannabis on college and university campuses.

Arizona has a Voter Protection Act, which means lawmakers can’t pass laws that overturn or restrict anything voters approved. Instead, they can only pass legislation that “furthers the intent” of the measure voters passed.

So when Arizona passed a law in 2012 that banned medical cannabis use at institutes of higher learning, it violated the Voter Protection Act. The ban, in other words, did not further the intent of the law, since voters did not intend to ban medical cannabis on campus.


That’s exactly the argument Andre Maestas used to vacate his 2014 criminal charge for marijuana possession when he was a student at ASU. In 2014, ASU police arrested Maestas for having just 0.4 grams of cannabis in his dorm room.

The state’s medical cannabis program permits cardholders to possess up to 2.5 ounces at a time. But Maestas was charged with a class 6 felony for possession.

Prosecutors ultimately reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and tried to reach a plea deal. But Maestas fought the charges in court and ended up appealing his sentence.

Last year, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in Maestas’ favor and dismissedhis conviction for possession. The state, however, continued to pursue charges by appealing the ruling, which brought the case to the Supreme Court.


Colleges Can Still Ban Cannabis Use On Campus

Even though medical card holders can use cannabis on college campuses without legal consequences, they can still face disciplinary action from their universities. Many public universities across the country ban cannabis use and possession even if a state has legalized it.

Public universities say their federal funding is on the line. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And schools say they must comply with those laws to remain eligible for federal grants and subsidies.

In the case leading up to Wednesday’s Arizona Supreme Court decision, the State used this loss of funding argument to oppose the repeal of the 2012 law. But the court found that “the State has not shown that a university would lose (or has lost) federal funding if a state prosecutor did not prosecute violations of the university’s program.”

The court also revoked universities’ ability to criminally charge someone for marijuana possession, something the 2012 law allowed. Schools do not have the authority to enact criminal laws, the court ruled.

So, students who break their university’s weed rules won’t face criminal charges. But their schools can still enact tough sanctions on violators.


Arizona State University, for example, prohibits anyone from using or possessing marijuana on campus or in a residence hall whether they have a medical card or not. Students who break the rule face disciplinary action and arrest, according to the university website.

The Arizona Department of Health Services doesn’t track how many college students in Arizona have medical marijuana cards. But of the state’s roughly 167,000 registered patients, 25 percent are 30 years old or younger.

So if you’re a medical cannabis patient attending college in Arizona, don’t worry about facing criminal charges for lighting up. Just know the best place to medicate is still somewhere off-campus.

State Troopers Seize $5 Million Worth of Cannabis During Traffic Stop


Some cannabis enthusiasts don’t pack light. On Wednesday evening, state troopers seize $5 million worth of cannabis during traffic stop. Here’s what happened that fateful night in Nebraska, and why weed may be harder to come by in the midwest this 4/20.

The Police Pulled Over A Van and Discovered Much More

At 5:50 pm on April 18th, the police spotted a 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter from Colorado driving in the breakdown lane. They proceed to pull the van over at mile marker 36 near Geneva, Nebraska, according to 1011 Now.

After stopping the van, the K9 police unit recognized the smell of marijuana. In total, the police uncovered 1,853 lbs of marijuana, 46 lbs of hash wax and 8,779 doses of hash oil for vape pens. This ridiculous amount of cannabis is worth approximately $5 million dollars.

The Driver Is Facing Serious Charges

Nebraska and Colorado may share a border, but their marijuana policies are vastly different. Colorado is a trailblazer when it comes to the realities of legalizing weed. In the U.S., the state is a pioneer in cannabis taxation, research and even cuisine.

Surrounding states don’t share their love for the herb. After Colorado passed legalization, Nebraska and Oklahoma sued the state. They claimed that Colorado’s laws are undermining their own marijuana policy and depleting their assets. The Supreme Court threw out the case, but the disparity in policies still remains.

Though Nebraska has decriminalized marijuana to a certain extent, the police are still on high alert for marijuana possession, especially in cars with out of state plates. According to NORML, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana in Nebraska results in a fine. Larger amounts, however, can lead to jail time. For one ounce or less, you receive several days in jail for repeat offenses. However, these charges are only misdemeanors.

But possession of over a pound of marijuana is a felony according to Nebraska law. The sentence is five years and carries a maximum fine of $10,000.

On top of possession charges, the state is charging driver Michael Cardis of Arvada, Colorado with intent to deliver and for not having a Drug Tax stamp. The Tax Stamp law compels anyone in Nebraska to purchase a stamp from the state to label their personal marijuana supply.

The police are currently holding the 39-year-old driver in Fillmore County Jail.

Despite Legalization, There Are Still Harsh Penalties For Marijuana Possession

Though California, Colorado, Massachusetts and other liberal states have legalized recreational cannabis, not every state is moving in the same direction. Mormon leaders in Utah have come out against medical marijuana legalization.

Though Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, Governor LePage has threatened to veto marijuana legislation.


The Police Are Anticipating The High Holiday

This is only the latest drug bust before 4/20. Outside Greenfield, Indiana, a similar situation occurred.

The Indiana State Police pulled over a 2017 Ford Expedition when they noticed the vehicle swerving. When the authorities searched the car, they discovered 78 pounds of marijuana, valued at about $250,000.

Final Hit: State Troopers Seize $5 Million Worth of Cannabis During Traffic Stop

State troopers seize $5 million worth of cannabis during traffic stop in an attempt to curb the tide of marijuana seeping into surrounding states from Colorado.

This massive drug bust worth about $5 million dollars will seriously short Nebraska’s weed supply just two days before 4/20.

Congress Just Extended Federal Medical Marijuana Protections


Congress just extended the federal medical marijuana protections known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, or the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. It happened early Friday morning when President Donald Trump signed a huge budget deal that brought a short federal shutdown to an end. But these temporary protections still face some uncertainty in the coming months. The latest spending plan only runs until the end of March. At that time, the medical marijuana community could become more volatile at the hands of the Department of Justice.

The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment Keeps Going


The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents Attorney General Sessions from spending tax dollars to prosecute medical marijuana businesses and patients, has been a part of the federal budget for the past few years. In fact, this is the eighth time the rider has been renewed since 2015.

This temporary rider is the only document on the books that protects medical marijuana states. Without it, the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would have free rein to investigate, raid and prosecute all connections to statewide medical marijuana programs.

Congress Riding Same Budget Since 2015

This does not mean Congress has been giving medical marijuana serious consideration during budget talks. It has not. Since Rohrabacher-Farr has been a part of the federal budget for the past three years, it has been gliding on the coattails of the renewal process. Basically, since Congress has not approved a new budget since 2015, the federal medical marijuana protections keep living.

Similar riders have been proposed in the past, but none have ever been given the time of day.


Sessions Pressures Congress to Eliminate Federal Medical Marijuana Protections


It is distinctly possible that the medical marijuana debate will come to a head next month. The current protections are only good until March 23. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment must find its way inside a much larger budget to maintain. If it will survive the next round of negotiations is anyone’s guess. The protections are at risk for elimination. Attorney General Sessions has been pressuring both the House and Senate to ensure this happens.

It was just last year that Sessions sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking them to abandon support for Rohrabacher-Farr.

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and a potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote last June. “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

Final Hit: Congress Just Extended Federal Medical Marijuana Protections

Congressional leadership will need to approve the language for inclusion in the new appropriations for the rider to stay intact. Although the Senate has shown some support, the House of Representative has been less than enthusiastic. As NORML political director Justin Strekal pointed out in his analysis, “The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled, should Congress ever set a FY18 budget, of which is already over a third of the way behind us.”

Is Arizona Trying To Legalize Marijuana Again?


Arizona has come close to legalizing weed in the past, but so far, it hasn’t quite succeeded. But now, thanks to a new proposal introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives, the state could give it another shot. With Arizona trying to legalize marijuana, the push for more weed-friendly laws around the country continues.

Arizona’s New Legalization Proposal

Republican Representative Todd Clodfelter, representing Tucson, and Democratic Representative Mark Cardenas, representing Phoenix, introduced the proposal on Thursday.

The proposal calls for the legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and older. More specifically, it would allow adults in Arizona to possess up to an ounce of cannabis. The proposal would also make it legal for adults to grow up to six plants.

Under the proposal, smoking in public would be illegal. Similarly, cities and towns would have the ability to choose whether or not to allow weed businesses. Employers would also have the freedom to choose whether or not to bar employees from consuming weed.

The proposal would also establish a system for taxing legal cannabis sales. These changes would apply to recreational weed. The state’s current medical marijuana laws would all remain intact.


Arizona and Cannabis

This isn’t the first time that lawmakers and voters in Arizona have considered the possibility of legalizing weed. In fact, the state has a bit of an up-and-down relationship with cannabis laws.

After several failed attempts to create a viable medical marijuana program during the late 1990s and early 2000s, the state finally legalized MMJ in 2010. That year, Proposition 203 passed with a narrow 50.1 percent favorable vote.

Proposition 205, which called for the legalization of recreational cannabis, made it onto the 2016 ballot. In a close contest, the bill lost, receiving 48.7 percent of the vote.

That year, four other states voted in favor of legalizing weed. Arizona was the only state with a legalization bill that year that did not pass.

Arizona was also the state that saw some of the most well-funded opposition efforts in the nation. Most notably, pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics gave $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a leading anti-legalization group.


Then, a few months after the state’s legalization bill was defeated, news surfaced that Insys was developing its own synthetic marijuana drug called Syndros. In March 2017, the company received DEA approval for Syndros.

On top of all that, Insys has also been investigated for possible criminal activity related to the aggressive marketing of a drug containing the highly addictive opioid fentanyl.

Final Hit: Is Arizona Trying To Legalize Marijuana Again?

Clodfelter’s and Cardenas’ proposal could give voters in Arizona another chance to legalize weed. If it receives approval from the House and the Senate, the proposal will appear on November’s ballot.

At this point, it’s unclear whether or not the new proposal has a chance of succeeding. Importantly, the proposal was introduced by a bipartisan partnership between Clodfelter, a Republican, and Cardenas, a Democrat.

Despite this, local media sources report that there is strong Republican opposition to legalization throughout the state. The proposal is now up for consideration in the House. If it clears the House, it would then go onto the Senate.