This November, Arizona could be the latest state to add medical marijuana legislation to the books. Though the proposed laws are stricter than California’s, Arizonans may be poised to allow some of the most sick residents access to the “benefits” of pot.
Proposition 203 was placed on the ballot after supporters got 250,000, more than the 150,000 required. Currently, thirteen states have medical marijuana laws and many are looking to put it to a vote come this fall.
The Arizona law would allow only those who have serious illnesses to obtain the drug. According to the State Press, the proposed law dictates exactly which conditions are eligible. Those conditions and diseases include things like HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, seizures, chronic pain, and persistent muscle spasms. These restriction and explicit limitations would make Arizona’s medical marijuana laws similar to New Jersey‘s, and not so permissive as in California.
In an effort to satisfy opponents and those that question if the proposed legislation could increase crime, a cap would be put on the number of dispensaries. A total of 124 dispensaries would be allowed in the state, one for every 10 pharmacies.
Supporters of medical marijuana range from those who would qualify for its legal use and those who don’t see the harm in the drug at all. Many make a good point when asking what criminalizing marijuana has done for the state and the country—aside from increasing costs exponentially and driving a disastrous drug trade between the U.S. and Mexico.
For those who smoke recreationally and see the medical marijuana issue as a potential precursor to overall legalization—they may be on to something. California will be voting on whether to legalize marijuana this fall and if Californians legalize, it could be a sign of things to come in other states.
However, in the meantime, marijuana is a controlled substance. One for which you can face serious penalties if caught in possession of. Sure, being caught with marijuana isn’t as serious as being caught with heroin, but it is a crime.
For a first time marijuana charge, there’s a good chance you will qualify for deferred prosecution. This means you will be required to serve a period of probation. When completed, your charges are dropped and do not appear on your record.
Although possession of less than two pounds of marijuana is considered a felony, it can often be pled down to a misdemeanor with the help of an attorney. Even when you don’t get a deferred prosecution, there’s a good chance for your first few offenses that you won’t serve jail time at all.