Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Arizona Supreme Court strikes down state legislation prohibiting medical marijuana on college campus as inconsistent with voter initiative
The Arizona Supreme Court has issued a series of opinions giving broad effect to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which was enacted by voters as Proposition 203 in 2010. The latest example of such an opinion was handed down today in Arizona v. Maestas, No. CR-17-0193-PR (Az. May 23, 2018) (available here). Here is the first paragraph and key substantive paragraphs from the ruling:
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”), enacted by voters as Proposition 203 in 2010, generally permits qualified AMMA cardholders to possess a limited amount of marijuana and, with certain exceptions and limitations, immunizes their AMMA-compliant possession or use from “arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner.” A.R.S. § 36-2811(B). Among its limitations, the AMMA prohibits the possession or use of medical marijuana at certain specified locations. A.R.S. § 36-2802(B). In 2012, the Arizona Legislature added another location by enacting a statute under which “a person, including [a qualified AMMA cardholder], may not lawfully possess or use marijuana on the campus of any public university, college, community college or postsecondary educational institution.” A.R.S. § 15-108(A). Because that statute violates Arizona’s Voter Protection Act (“VPA”) with respect to AMMA-compliant marijuana possession or use, we hold it unconstitutional as applied to the university student/cardholder in this case....
To comply with the VPA, the legislature may constitutionally amend a voter initiative only if “the amending legislation furthers the purposes of such measure and at least three-fourths of the members of each house of the legislature . . . vote to amend such measure.” Ariz. Const. art. 4, pt. 1, § 1(6)(C) . Here, “at least three-fourths of the members of each house of the legislature” voted to enact § 15-108(A). Id. The dispositive question, therefore, is whether § 15-108(A) “furthers the purposes” of the AMMA. Id. It does not.
The AMMA “permits those who meet statutory conditions to [possess and] use medical marijuana.” Reed-Kaliher v. Hoggatt, 237 Ariz. 119, 122 ¶ 7 (2015). “Because marijuana possession and use are otherwise illegal in Arizona, . . . the drafters [of the AMMA] sought to ensure that those using marijuana pursuant to [the] AMMA would not be penalized for such use.” Id. Indeed, this purpose is made explicit in the AMMA’s voter initiative statements. See Proposition 203 § 2(G) (2010) (stating that the purpose of the AMMA “is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions . . . from arrest and prosecution, [and] criminal and other penalties . . . if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana”). Criminalizing AMMA-compliant marijuana possession or use on public college and university campuses plainly does not further the AMMA’s primary purpose as expressed in those statements supporting the voter initiative. Section 15-108(A) does not “protect” qualifying AMMA cardholders from criminal penalties arising from AMMA-compliant marijuana possession or use on public college and university campuses, but rather subjects them to such penalties. Therefore, because § 15-108(A) does not further the purpose of the AMMA, we hold that § 15-108(A) violates the VPA as applied to AMMA-compliant marijuana possession or use.