Medical Marijuana on College Campuses in Arizona
As a criminal defense law firm in Phoenix, Coolidge Law Firm knows that having a criminal record, even if it is a small misdemeanor, can have major impacts on a person’s ability to find a job, travel, or maintain custody of their children. That’s one of the reasons this recent ruling on medical marijuana on college campuses in Arizona was so important.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA)
The AMMA was passed by voters back in 2010 as Proposition 203. It allows for the legal use of medical marijuana in the state of Arizona with a few restrictions. Among those restrictions, the AMMA makes it illegal to use or possess medical marijuana on a school bus, on the grounds of any preK-12 school or in a correctional facility.
The Prohibition of Medical Marijuana on College Campuses.
Not included in the list above are college campuses. However, in 2012, then Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill that amended the AMMA, stating that the possession and use of medical marijuana by legal card holders would also be legally prohibited on public university and college campuses.
At the time, Arizona was the only state where medical marijuana was illegal on college campuses, but legal elsewhere.
Arizona Supreme Court’s Reversal
In 2014, a student and medical marijuana cardholder by the name of Maestas was charged with a class 6 felony for possessing 0.4 grams of weed—well under the 2.5-gram legal limit—in his ASU freshman dorm room.
Although the state eventually reduced the drug charge to a class 1 misdemeanor, Maestas still decided to appeal the court’s decision, hoping to overturn the statute altogether.
Maestas’ appeal found its way to the highest court in the state, the Arizona Supreme Court. And on May 23, 2018, they ruled that the 2012 statute which made it illegal to use or possess marijuana on university and college campuses was unconstitutional. They argued that expanding the voter-passed marijuana law to exclude college campuses eliminates some of its protections.
Marijuana Still Banned on College Campuses
The twist here is that marijuana is still technically banned on all public university and college campuses in Arizona. Though marijuana laws are decided on a state level, under federal law, its use is still restricted. That means public schools that receive government grants must abide by federal law.
What the Maestas v. State ruling did accomplish was to decriminalize the use and possession of medical marijuana on college campuses.
If you’ve been charged with a drug-related crime or you’re facing criminal charges in Arizona, contact Certified Criminal Law Specialist Todd Coolidge today.