[JURIST] The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in two separate decisions that courts cannot prohibit parolees from using medical marijuana when used for medical purposes under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). The AMMA was passed by the legislature in 2010, and both plaintiffs obtained registry identification cards because of medical conditions for which doctors prescribed marijuana treatment. In Arizona v. Ferrell [opinion, PDF], Justice Ann Timmer reasoned that courts cannot assume powers which were restricted by the legislature. In this case the court found that the state cannot order the plaintiff to refrain from using medical marijuana as part of a plea agreement. In Reed-Kaliher v. Hoggatt [text, PDF], Justice Rebecca Berch wrote the opinion of the court, pointing out that AMMA does not bar drug offenders or offenders of violent crimes from using medical marijuana, and would therefore also not bar probationers. Although courts can impose many restrictions on probationers, these restrictions cannot violate state law. The state argued that Arizona law mandates that drug offenders must be prohibited from marijuana use. However, Berch stated that the AMMA distinguishes between medicinal use and illegal recreational use of the drug.
The legal use and sale of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for both medical and recreational purposes has become a controversial issue in the US with a number of states contemplating various legalization initiatives. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman filed a brief last month urging [JURIST report] the US Supreme Court [official website] to throw out a lawsuit by Nebraska and Oklahoma challenging Colorado’s marijuana legalization law. In November voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted [JURIST report] to legalize recreational marijuana. The Pennsylvania State Senate last September approved [JURIST Report] legislation that would legalize several forms of medical marijuana. In July Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed [JURIST report] legislation that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana. In April 2014 the Maryland House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.