Cannabis in Arizona Legal for Tourists with Medical Marijuana Cards

The Arizona Court of Appeals has recently ruled it legal for people visiting from other states or countries to possess and use medical marijuana.

A recent panel voted that an issued card under Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act is equivalent to a physician recommendation for cannabis under California’s Compassionate Use Act.

The Reason

This all stems from a 2016 case in which Standley Kemmish Jr., a California native who had been issued a medical marijuana card, was pulled over and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Unsurprisingly, Kemmish maintained that he was allowed to possess the drug under Arizona’s medical marijuana law due to the fact that he has a physician’s recommendation for the cannabis.

Prosecutors largely disagreed, asserting that the doctor’s note was in no way equivalent to possessing a medical marijuana patient card (issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services).

The appellate court’s panel relied on Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act (voter-approved). This allows “visiting qualifying patients” to have the same immunity as people with medical marijuana cards issue by the state of Arizona.

The court noted:”[w]hether another state’s medical marijuana law requires an identification card, a physician’s letter, or some other documentation is immaterial, so long as the documentation is sufficient under the law of the issuing state.”

Nonetheless, medical marijuana users who are visiting from other states are still not allowed to purchase cannabis from dispensaries located in Arizona.

The Why

As a result of conditions like cancer and chronic pain, voters in Arizona approved the medical marijuana program in 2010. The effects of the program didn’t gain notable momentum until 2012 when dispensaries began to pop up around the state.

Not only that, consider the following fact, courtesy of herb.co:

“Studies have shown that the time-period following the legalization of medical cannabis has shown an almost five percent decrease in the total suicide rate. Even better, males aged 20-29 displayed an eleven percent decrease in suicide, meaning that cannabis can help youth recover from suicidal tendencies and mindsets.”

With the presence of dispensaries, the drug has become much more accessible for people who are issued medical marijuana cards. This is for good reason, as the discovered benefits seem to be increasing as more research is done. Research into the impact of marijuana are clearly trending toward the conclusion that it is a welcome remedy for many people suffering a variety of medical conditions.

Just over 150,000 people actively participate in the program. Last year, for example, over one million ounces of marijuana were purchased (equivalent to roughly 87,000 pounds).

The program is bound to grow even more over the coming years as medical marijuana rules continue to change.

Our Office