An Arizona Court of Appeals reached a ruling on Thursday that found state lawmakers had acted illegally by making it a crime for medical marijuana users to possess the drug on college and university campuses.
Judge Peter Swann found that the 2010 initiative, which had legalized the possession and use of marijuana, already specified the places where users were forbidden from using the drug. That list included places such as public schools and public buses, as well as correctional facilities.
Judge Swann referred to the Arizona Constitution for this ruling which states that lawmakers can not amend what voters have already adopted unless it furthers the purpose of the initiative. The Judge decided turning legal medicinal users into criminals did not further that initiative. “To the contrary, it eliminates some of its protections,” Judge Swann said.
The interesting dynamic here is that while lawmakers may not be able to prevent medical marijuana use on campuses, the universities themselves may take measures to prevent it’s use in the buildings they own.
“To the extent a person violate such rules or prohibitions, the state can have the offending party removed or charged with trespassing,” Swann said. “The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not stop it from creating such policies.”
Thursday’s ruling deals with a 2012 amendment passed by lawmakers that sought to limit the areas medicinal users could light up in and exclude “the campus of any public university, college, community college or post secondary educational institution.”
The case was brought to court after a student was charged with a felony in 2014after being picked up by officers. The student had his medical marijuana card on him and when questioned by the police about it he informed them he had marijuana back in his dorm room, which officers quickly searched and found .4 grams of marijuana.
After several appeals the case finally landed on the desk of Judge Swann who made his decision known in no uncertain terms. “Nothing in the plain language of the statute authorized criminalization of cardholders’ possess of marijuana on college or university campuses,” he said.
Should medical marijuana users be allowed to indulge on campus and university property? Let us know what you think in the comments below!