The Maricopa County Attorney’s Workplace, led by ardent weed opponent Bill Montgomery, is nonetheless prosecuting health-related marijuana sufferers for extracts whose legality is beneath critique by the Arizona Supreme Court, according to the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
In a letter to Montgomery sent Thursday, the ACLU of Arizona stated it had discovered that his workplace has been “prosecuting or threatening to prosecute” licensed health-related marijuana sufferers “for possessing cannabis items sold at state-licensed dispensaries.”
The civil rights organization demanded that Montgomery’s workplace instantly cease these prosecutions and threats.
Jared Keenan, the ACLU of Arizona’s criminal justice lawyer who signed the letter, stated that the civil rights group had confirmed two instances of health-related marijuana sufferers in Maricopa County who had been either becoming prosecuted or had been threatened with prosecution.
1 of the confirmed instances involved a lady who was presented a pre-indictment plea deal to enter the TASC Drug Diversion System, Keenan stated. Below that controversial plan, which is run by a private contractor, defendants have to spend hefty plan costs and effectively finish the plan in order to stay away from felony convictions.
TASC, meanwhile, reimburses the county attorney’s workplace for these clientele, on a per-individual basis that has added up to extra than $1 million annually. Final August, a civil rights group sued Montgomery’s workplace for perpetrating a income-raising scheme by means of TASC that disproportionately penalized poor marijuana customers.
These revelations come for the duration of a crucial moment for health-related marijuana in Arizona, as the state awaits a choice from the Arizona Supreme Court on the legality of health-related-marijuana extracts.
On March 19, justices heard oral arguments in the case State of Arizona v. Rodney Christopher Jones, which centers on regardless of whether the 2010 Arizona Healthcare Marijuana Act covers marijuana extracts and protects sufferers that use items containing them, such as edibles, from arrest and prosecution.
In that hearing, which hashed more than the finer points of marijuana use, an lawyer for Yavapai County argued that the health-related marijuana law did not extend to extracts of the plant. He cited varying definitions of marijuana items beneath state criminal code.
Jones is a health-related marijuana cardholder who served extra than two years in prison soon after becoming arrested in Yavapai County, which has earned notoriety for its crackdown on extracts like CBD oil, for possessing hashish that he had purchased legally at a state dispensary. His lawyer argued mostly that it would be illogical for the health-related marijuana law not to cover extracts.
The Supreme Court normally troubles choices two to 3 months soon after oral arguments. In the intervening months, there’s no formal protocol for prosecutors to interpret the law in query one particular way or an additional.
Provided the existing legal uncertainty, Keenan recommended it created small sense for prosecutors to treat all marijuana extracts as illegal. “I believe that the prudent path would be to not go soon after these individuals,” he stated, calling it “striking” that some sufferers had been presently becoming prosecuted.
But that is precisely what Montgomery’s workplace is performing, even with the legality of these extracts up in the air.
Mikel Weisser, the state director for marijuana-advocacy group NORML, runs the organization’s hotline for Arizona. He routinely receives calls from individuals who’ve been arrested for marijuana possession, he stated. Several of them are sufferers, and extra than a handful have been in Maricopa County.
So far, out of 40 calls received, Weisser stated he had identified seven sufferers arrested for marijuana extracts in Maricopa County. 5 of these he stated he had verified, and there had been an additional 10 prospective sufferers in the county he had not but verified.
Weisser refers individuals to lawyers, like to Keenan and the ACLU of Arizona, so they can get legal tips.
This newest round of prosecutions and threats caps a decade of staunch opposition by Montgomery to marijuana, for any use.
In 2010, he fought unsuccessfully against the Arizona Healthcare Marijuana Act, prior to voters’ approving it. For the duration of a debate in March 2015, he linked the recreational use of marijuana with prostitution and the “litany of points that fall beneath the banner of a misguided notion of freedom.” And in 2016, he vocally opposed Proposition 205, a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.
Montgomery has been place on notice prior to for targeting health-related marijuana sufferers. In 2014, the Maricopa County Superior Court issued an order that challenged his policy of going soon after sufferers. It declined to problem an injunction, nonetheless, due to the fact it declared that the health-related marijuana law did not prohibit the use of extracts.
A spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Workplace did not respond to a voicemail and an e-mail in search of comment.