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12/5/2012 6:00:00 AM
Act allows medical marijuana use, but it's easy to run afoul of the rules

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

Medical marijuana cardholders and dispensary owners might want to double and triple check Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act, because those who don't follow the rules aren't getting any breaks from local law enforcement.

"What we're finding is that (marijuana cardholders) are going way over the number of plants they're allowed to grow and marijuana they're allowed to have," said Sheriff Tom Sheahan.

The law allows someone with a medical marijuana card to carry 2.5 ounces of the plant in their pocket. It also allows people who have the card and are authorized by the Arizona Department of Health Services to grow up to 12 plants for their own use.

Any more than that and the person could get arrested, said Kingman Police Capt. Rusty Cooper. And no, the department does not subtract 2.5 ounces or 12 plants from total amount of marijuana you get arrested with.

Sheahan said it's been a big problem with his office, although he didn't provide hard numbers documenting the number of cases.

"It's been very difficult to deal with and the law is being abused, tremendously abused. As we knew would happen," he said. "It's nothing more than the first step to legalization.

"One of the excuses we've gotten for having too many plants or too much product is that the person was going donate to a doctor. But doctors can't dispense the drug without a dispensary license and we don't have any dispensaries in the area yet. Another excuse we've gotten is that the person is growing additional plants to sell to other cardholders, and you can't do that."

He's also concerned about marijuana getting into the hands of juveniles, who will share it with their friends.

Deputies are also running into a number of out-of-state motorists with marijuana cards who are transporting large quantities of the drug. Each state has its own limit on how much a person can carry, but most of these out-of-state people who are stopped are carrying much more than any legal limit, Sheahan said.

He also reminded people that there is still a federal law against possession, sale or cultivation of marijuana, although his office hasn't heard from the federal government about its plans for Arizona.

Sgt. Jamie Clark from MAGNET said his organization has had six cases that led to arrests in the last year of people who were not quite meeting the standards of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

"We really haven't had too much of an issue with it," he said. "We had two cases were someone exceeded the maximum amount of allowable on them, three cases were someone had exceeded the number of plants allowed and one case where a facility was not properly secured."

Most of the cases MAGNET has run into involve people who just aren't aware of the limits of the law, Clark said.

"It's just education. People have to be educated about the law," he said.

Cooper said his department has run into similar problems. His department has had between six and 10 cases in the last year dealing with medical marijuana, he said. In a lot of the cases, people just weren't aware of the limits.

Added Cooper, "There are lot of things that have to be in place before someone can legally grow marijuana. If you don't meet the requirements, you are not protected by the law and can get arrested."

The best place to get information on the law is the ADHS website,, Clark said.

An arrest can also led to action by the Arizona Department of Health Services. A person can be fined and lose their medical marijuana card or their dispensary license.

According to a recent report from ADHS, one patient and six caregiver cards have been revoked in the last year.

According to ADHS, 33,601 people in the state have medical marijuana cards and 27,794 of those are authorized to grow. In Mohave County, 484 people in Kingman have cards Lake Havasu City has 545 and Bullhead City has 353.

The department also approved 99 dispensary permits in August.

Related Stories:
• Dolan Springs residents fret over price of dispensary pot
• Kink in marijuana law may delay opening of Kingman dispensary
• Medical marijuana: Law, dispensaries to be discussed for Mohave County

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Article comment by: Lets Clarify

The 2.5 ounces biweekly 5 ounces per month amount is Marijuana purchased from DISPENSARIES.

What you grow at home has NO LIMIT. The state was snart enough to know your going to harvest much more then 5 ounces in the month your crop is finished.

Again the Amount limit is ONLY FOR what you buy from a dispensary with RECORDS OF PURCHASE. OR the maximum amount you can carry on your person at any given time.

There is NO LIMIT to the amount a cardholding grower can have in their home PERIOD. Nothing in the law at all concerning at home growing amounts at harvest. Only max of 12 plants.

I have read the law many times asked many sources and all agree. You can have 100 pounds at home. You can only carry 2.5 ounces in your pocket.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Smooth Criminal

Looks like the sheriff is looking for excuses to arrest people. If people grow weed, over 50% is thrown away after the plant is large enough to determine sex of the plant. The male plants have no medicinal value. If you have 12 female plants full grown, then you are way over 2.5 ozs, & thats not including the weight of the stalk and roots.
Right to grow may be taken away from patients, if a store is opened. The poor will not afford that. Store sold pot is in steep competition, & some tested in Cal has had spice or bath salts to increase seeming potency.

Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Article comment by: Jay Fleming

We can only hope this is the first step to legalization. It's only by removing the enormous profits, will we stop the tons of marijuana crossing our borders, along with the illegals carrying it. Law enforcement is a tough job, we need to stop putting officers in danger, by making a weed almost worth it's weigh in gold.

Education is the answer, we've reduced tobacco use (a very addictive drug) by 50% over the last 40 years. We didn't lock anyone up, we didn't destroy any families, and we didn't need to build one new prison. Our legislators, and much of law enforcement, isn't knowledgeable about medical marijuana.

It's important we support law enforcement, and when we have the opportunity, educate them about what we do, and what our problems and challenges are.

For Seems Like Arizona is NOT California, readour law.... You're compairing apples and oranges..

Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Article comment by: Town Crier

Oh no, not medical marijuana...or marijuana in general for that matter. If this is your biggest problem in law enforcement, then you should feel lucky. Yeah, legalization would be just terrible! All that business and revenue taken from violent cartels...not too far south and turned into legitimate business, jobs, and tax dollars to regulate and provide safer access for those who choose to consume it (just like alcohol) so they don't have to interact with a drug-dealer that will give an unregulated, unsafe product, and they will have other, more dangerous drugs thrown at them and yes, let's be sure that people who are terminally ill are the only people that can use and benefit from it. Do you need to be dying in order to use cold medicine? If you don't like it, or agree with it, then don't use it but stop trying to force beliefs on people...we can think for ourselves. Especially when it concerns our own bodies.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

So far our state govt. who was against prop 203 from the beginning has collected 5,040,150,00 just for their part of the fees. The Doctors who do perscripe it got an equal amount. Not a bad beginning if you ask me. Of course a lot of the older police like Sheehan are against legalization and for good reason. They have been able to take peoples property and cash and a lot of it gets to stay right here in Kingman. But how long can the taxpayers afford to wage an unwinable war on drugs.This has been going on since Nixon are we winning yet. Prohibition doesn't work.
Besides all of that nobody has ever died from Hemp. Study after study has said it is a harmless mood elevator that has medicinal properties. So why would a conservative be against it. Once again we have to have politicians tell us what is right and wrong for us. William F Buckley and many other real conservatives were and are for legalization. It is time for the govt to mind there own business as to what people do in the privacy of their own home. If someone behaves badly arrest them but leave the rest of us alone. Its none of your business.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: All smoke and mirrors

[Comment deleted for excessive length]

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: joey J

It's no one's business who is getting prescribed what for what. Anymore than its my business who is taking what kindbof birth control. It's a little hard to get worked up over people "abusing" a nontoxic plant. It isn't like we're talking about beer, vicodin, xanax, Prozac, or some other hard drug that's actually deadly. The only people worried about someone abusing a plant are the same idiots who voted against the law inte first place. The problem seems to be their inability to mind their own business, not someone smoking or eating an herb.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: Kevin Hunt

"Like anyone is given a medical marijuana use card."

The #1 cause of liver failure is Tylenol and no one needs a prescription for that. FDA approved pills kill 20,000 Americans per year and I don't see anyone wanting to ban those.

Marijuana should be legal and regulated like alcohol, for those 21 and up. Prohibition hasn't been an effective form of 'regulation'.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: Not drug dependent

I think a lot of these people purposely keep themselves uninformed because they fully believe that what they don't know won't hurt them. A lot of them are going by what they hear only, and they are finding out that what they are hearing is wrong, the hard way.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: Seems like....... .

Like anyone is given a medical marijuana use card. I thought you got one for a valid reason (written by a medical Dr.). Seems like they are issuing to the youth, so they can use it legally. What are the requirements to get one? If you saw Joan Knows Best, TV show, Ms. Rivers got an prescription, bought and smoked marijuana in the same day.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: Just Maybe...

Perhaps those who apply for the "cards" should first have to attend classes so that they KNOW the laws . Then, if they choose to break the laws regarding marijuana and are arrested for it they cannot claim "ignorance" of the law. btw: I am in favor of medical marijuana for those who truly need pain relief.

Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Article comment by: Warren AO

'It's nothing more than the first step to legalization.'

And this is a problem in what way?

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