Arizona Medical Marijuana Patient Sues Over Raid

Arizona Medical Marijuana Patient Sues Over Raid

PHOENIX , AZ — A Phoenix woman is suing the state of Arizona, claiming police violated Arizona’s medical-marijuana laws when they seized a marijuana tincture during a raid of her home last March.

Medical-marijuana patient Charise Voss-Arfa claims police wrongfully considered the oil labeled “Soccer Moms Tincture” a narcotic instead of marijuana. Cannabis tincture is a concentrated alcoholic extract of marijuana, common with medical marijuana patients.

Arizona law separates “medical marijuana” from “cannabis,” and law-enforcement officials consider mixing marijuana with any substance — such as oil, brownie mix or dressing — altering the marijuana into “cannabis.”

The term “marijuana” is actually slang, applied to the cannabis plant in the early twentieth century.

“This is really about not smoking and having the ability to use marijuana in non-smoking forms without fear of being prosecuted for a Class 4 felony, which is, under the law, the same thing as heroin — the same severity, believe it or not,” said Michael Walz, the attorney representing Voss-Arfa.

In her lawsuit, Voss-Arfa asks Maricopa County Superior Court to order police to return the oil; to ban police from arresting, prosecuting or taking property from medical-marijuana cardholders; and to declare the state’s criminal statute related to “cannabis” void as it creates a double jeopardy when applied to medical-marijuana patients and caregivers. She also asks the court to pay her expenses associated with the legal action.

State officials say patients participating in Arizona’s medical-marijuana program will be allowed to buy and possess items containing marijuana such as brownies and oils through dispensaries, but are only allowed to grow plants or have caregivers grow for them because no dispensaries are yet open.

Arizona’s medical-marijuana program was created in 2010. Qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions must obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana and register with the state, which issues identification cards. Under the law, the state can set up and regulate up to 126 dispensaries, although none has yet opened.

A Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Friday.