At The Feldman Law Firm, we represent clients charged with marijuana and other drug offenses on a regular basis. Marijuana defense lawyer, Adam Feldman, founder of the firm, has years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, as well as being a former prosecutor in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. His skills as a trial attorney are second to none, and he is dedicated to providing the best possible defense to his clients, no matter what the charges against them.
You may be aware that, with the passage of Proposition 203 (the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) in 2010, Arizona became one of more than a dozen states to legalize marijuana for medical use under certain very specific conditions. That law, however, has no effect upon the non-prescription possession or use, or, except in the case of a licensed dispensary, the possession for sale, sale or manufacture or distribution of marijuana. Moreover, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 812), which means that marijuana, according to the laws of the United States, has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical treatment value, and there is no accepted safety level or standard for its use under medical supervision.
You may find these facts to be incongruous, and they certainly appear to be. However, if you are charged with a marijuana offense in Arizona, theoretical arguments concerning alternative views on the drug will not get you very far. You need to understand precisely what you’re up against, and that requires that you retain the services of a highly skilled marijuana defense attorney with experience defending these types of cases.
Remember that the Medical Marijuana Act provides, on the state level, that although marijuana can be possessed in small quantities, the circumstances under which the act applies are narrow. In order to qualify for medical cannabis use, you need to possess a medical marijuana registry identification card, receive a valid medical prescription, and obtain the substance from licensed medical marijuana clinics or dispensaries. In order to obtain a registry card, you must suffer from one or more of a number of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain, severe nausea, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, severe muscle spasms, or other condition specified in the regulations adopted pursuant to the act. In addition, you may be entitled to possess marijuana if you are a designated caregiver or a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary agent who has been issued a valid registry identification card.
Under A.R.S. 13-3401, marijuana is defined as follows:
“all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis, from which the resin has not been extracted, whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant. Marijuana does not include the mature stalks of such plant or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.”
Cannabis, in turn means the resin from the cannabis plant, and any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the plant. It also includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana is also defined under the Arizona Uniform Controlled Substances Act, A.R.S. 36-2501.
The following are the basic criminal laws in Arizona regarding marijuana. The penalties listed are for first time offenders, and do not include aggravating factors that may lengthen the possible sentence.
A.R.S. 13-3405 provides that the following are criminal acts in Arizona, if done knowingly:
As noted above, the penalties for a conviction even for a first time offender can be substantial. The level of the offense is largely a function of the particular marijuana threshold set forth in the statute:
In addition to possible prison time, the marijuana law subjects a defendant convicted of a marijuana crime will be assessed a fine of not less than $750 or three times the value of the marijuana involved in the case, whichever is greater. This fine may not be suspended by the judge in the case.
Certain factors may increase the classification level of the offense, including possession, use, sale or production of marijuana in a drug-free school zone. In that case, the presumptive, minimum and maximum sentences otherwise applicable to the offense are increased by one year. In addition, the minimum fine increases to $2,000.
There are alternatives to prison sentences that are available in Arizona. The first is probation, which is authorized under A.R.S. 13-901.01:
“Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any person who is convicted of the personal possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia is eligible for probation. The court shall suspend the imposition or execution of sentence and place the person on probation.”
While the law is encouraging for those convicted of personal possession or use of marijuana, there are certain limits on its applicability. The first such limit is that anyone convicted of, or under indictment for, a violent crime is not eligible for probation. Violent crime is defined as any crime resulting in death or physical injury, as well as any crime involving the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Second, the probation statute only applies to personal use and possession – it does not apply to possession for sale, production, manufacturing or transportation of marijuana. Finally, you are not eligible for probation under this section:
Another possibility is the Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) diversionary program. TASC is a non-profit organization that provides drug testing, drug education and counseling. This program offers first-time drug offenders involving a small amount of marijuana an opportunity to participate in a deferred prosecution program. In order to qualify, you must be screened by TASC as a condition of your eligibility and permitted to enter the program. Acceptance is not automatic. If you fail to complete the program, your order of conviction will be reinstated, and you will be sentenced accordingly. Upon successful completion of the TASC program, upon recommendation of TASC and with the concurrence of the court, your marijuana charge can be dismissed.
There are numerous defenses that can be raised in a marijuana case in Arizona. Some of the possible responses to a marijuana charge are:
The short answer to this question is yes. Marijuana can lead to a charge of driving under the influence (DUI). A.R.S. 28-1381 provides as follows:
“A. It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances:
If you are impaired as a result of the use of marijuana, or even if you are not impaired but have marijuana in your system, you can be found guilty of DUI. Use of prescription marijuana under the Medical Marijuana Act is a defense under subsection 3 above, but does not provide a defense if you are found to have been impaired to even the slightest degree while driving a vehicle.
If you have been charged with an offense relating to marijuana, remember that even though many people do not consider the use or possession of marijuana to be a serious matter, the State of Arizona treats marijuana in most instances like hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Even possession of a small amount of marijuana is a felony.
At The Feldman Law Firm, we represent clients charged with drug crimes, including possession, use, possession for sale, transportation and trafficking. We are experts in the laws concerning marijuana, as well as defenses to marijuana charges, including marijuana DUI offenses. And we are fully familiar with the Medical Marijuana Act and its implications. As a former prosecutor, Adam Feldman understands that while marijuana charges are treated harshly under Arizona law, there is substantial room for negotiating with the state on marijuana charges, and there are alternatives to incarceration even in the event of a guilty plea. Mr. Feldman has years of trial experience, and he will proceed to trial where it is in the best interests of his client.
No matter what the particular marijuana offense is involved in your particular case, trust an experienced marijuana defense attorney. Remember that you future and your freedom are at stake. Contact us today for a free consultation.
The Feldman Law Firm is located in Phoenix, Arizona and provides criminal defense throughout the state of Arizona. This website is not intended to create a client attorney relationship, nor does communication though this website. This website is for marketing purposes only.The Feldman Law Firm, PLLC has merged with The Law Office of Bret A. Royle. Adam Feldman will still remain the sole attorney of record for all cases retained under The Feldman Law Firm, PLLC.