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The clash of federal and state pot laws in Arizona

If you are an Arizona resident who suffers from one or more disabling medical condition, you may have been paying close attention to recent developments surrounding the legalization of the use of medical marijuana.

Seven years ago, Arizona voters passed the state's Medical Marijuana Act, but that hardly settled the issue.

The state of flux surrounding the legalities of pot usage in the state has been a source of confusion for Arizona residents for quite a few years now. The intentions of the Trump administration regarding the enforcement of federal marijuana laws remains murky, further obfuscating the issue for residents.

Who gets a pass under the law?

Proposition 203 authorized the state Department of Health Services to implement a program for the approximate 50,000 medical marijuana patients in the state.

Under Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act, it's legal for patients to use and possess as much as 70 grams (or 2.5 ounces) of pot as long as they have certificates from their doctors.

These certificates stipulate that the prescribed marijuana treats symptoms that accompany serious and/or life-threatening diseases and conditions that include:

  • AIDS
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's disease

Who doesn't the law cover?

Every other user, basically, as Arizona remains one of the most restrictive states in the country as far as the penalties for convictions on pot charges.

With the decidedly marijuana-unfriendly Attorney General Jeff Sessions having a staunch ally in Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the continued prohibition toward the enforcement efforts against medical marijuana in the state is anything but assured.

As recently as July 14, Montgomery publicly chastised lawmakers who elected to use the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to thwart the Justice Department from funding the enforcement of federal laws to prosecute marijuana offenses.

Repercussions in family law courts

You might be questioning the relevance of the discussion of marijuana laws on a blog devoted primarily to family law matters. In actuality, however, there is a great deal of relevance.

Consider, for instance, the impact a parent's arrest on state or federal drug charges could have on a contested custody case pending in the Arizona family law courts. That's just the kind of ammunition over which opposing counsel in these cases salivates.

Controversial federal law enforcement efforts against medical marijuana in states where use of the plant as legitimate treatment inevitably produces legal fallout in contested custody cases.

If you are faced with the untenable choice of treating your serious medical condition or fighting for custody of your child, seek guidance before taking any legal actions.

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