Arrest of Medical Marijuana Patient on Campus Illegal, Court Rules

The Arizona Capitol Times

 May 23, 2018

Medical marijuana patients are free to have their drug on college and university campuses without having to fear arrest, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled this morning.

The justices said the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act gave those who have certain medical conditions permission to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

That law also said the initiative sets out specific places where even those entitled to otherwise use the drug legally may not have it. That includes school buses, public schools and correctional facilities.

Two years later, responding to concerns by university officials, lawmakers added the language expanding those prohibited zones to college campuses.

But in the unanimous ruling, the justices pointed out that that Arizona Constitution forbids lawmakers from amending what voters have adopted unless the change “furthers the purpose” of the initiative. Making criminals out of medical marijuana users, they said, does not.

The ruling does not leave colleges and universities without tools to deal with faculty, students and visitors who bring their drugs on the campus. The justices said they are free to adopt administrative rules to ban marijuana possession and penalize or remove those who violate those rules.

What they are not free to do, the court said, is have a medical marijuana patient arrested.

Today’s ruling is most immediately a victory for Andre Maestas, an Arizona State University student who was arrested by campus police after they found a small amount of marijuana in his dorm room. It means his conviction will be overturned.

But it also paves the way for any of the other more than 160,000 medical marijuana patients to have their drugs without fear of arrest.