Arizona Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Legal On College Campuses
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that students enrolled in public colleges with medical cards cannot face criminal charges for marijuana possession or use on campus.
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Back in 2012, a law was passed that banned cannabis in institutions of higher education. Wednesday's ruling overturns this law, finding it unconstitutional and in violation of voters' intent. Under Arizona law, namely the Voter Protection Act, lawmakers cannot go against voters' intent. In 2010, voters voted in favor of the state's medical marijuana program, which did not include a ban on cannabis at institutions of higher education. The ban, introduced in 2012, did not further voters' intent and was therefore deemed unconstitutional.
The Arizona Supreme Court ruling comes after Andre Maestas used the same argument to vacate his 2014 criminal charge for possessing marijuana on campus when he was a student at Arizona State University. He was arrested by ASU police for having 0.4 grams of weed in his dorm room and charged with a class 6 felony.
Arizona state law states that medical marijuana cardholders are able to possess up to 2.5 ounces at a time.
Though his charge was eventually reduced to a misdemeanor, Maestas was not satisfied and fought the charges in court. In 2017, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in Maestas' favor and dismissed his conviction, however, the state continued to pursue charges which resulted in the case being brought to the Supreme Court.
It's important to note that the new Arizona Supreme Court ruling doesn't mean students in Arizona will now be free to possess marijuana on campus. Universities can still impose harsh sanctions on students if marijuana is banned by the university. What they will no longer be able to do is criminally charge students that are in possession of marijuana. Cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and many universities are worried about losing federal funding if they allow cannabis on campus.
For now, at least, if you're a student in Arizona and a medical marijuana card holder, it's still best to keep your weed off campus to avoid punishments by your university.