by Marc J Victor on Aug. 24, 2017

Criminal Criminal  DUI-DWI 

Summary: From my vantage-point as a criminal defense attorney for over twenty years, it seems to me prosecutors have become more aggressive in criminal marijuana prosecutions and plea offers have become even more harsh and immoral.

Despite the existence of voter supported medical marijuana laws in Arizona, the current trends towards legalization nationally and the total failure of the foolish "drug war," controversy about legalization of marijuana remains. Indeed, criminal prosecutions involving marijuana remain as aggressive as ever. Horrible injustice regarding marijuana possession, sales, production, and transportation remains alive and well in Arizona's courts.


From my vantage-point as a criminal defense attorney for over twenty years, it seems to me prosecutors have become more aggressive in criminal marijuana prosecutions and plea offers have become even more harsh and immoral. I suspect the reason for this increase in harshness towards marijuana users is part of an intentional effort to make it appear as if marijuana crimes are on the rise in preparation for the inevitable battle over recreational use of marijuana in Arizona. Don't be fooled!


In this unjust and overly harsh climate for marijuana users, heightened awareness of the existing laws is critical. Medical marijuana users sometimes forget that an Arizona medical marijuana card does not protect the cardholder from a criminal prosecution for driving while impaired to the slightest degree as a result of marijuana use. Indeed, under current Arizona law, the mere existence of marijuana or the active metabolite of marijuana in a user's blood will support a DUI conviction; even for a legal medical marijuana user. Said another way, the existence of a valid medical marijuana card does not protect a user from a DUI even without any showing of impairment.


In addition to DUI laws, which remain applicable to legal medical marijuana users, there are also several other potential traps and yet unresolved issues of which medical marijuana users need to be aware. Users who are legally authorized to cultivate are routinely prosecuted for having more than 2.5oz of marijuana in their possession despite the fact that twelve legal marijuana plants will almost certainly produce an amount far in excess of 2.5oz. Lots of unresolved legal issues surround medical marijuana users and guns.


Portions of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act have already been determined in court to be vague and unreasonably difficult to understand for the ordinary person. Whether anyone can "sell" marijuana or receive reimbursement for marijuana remains an unclear and unresolved question. Even technical violations of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act can invalidate all legal protections and pave the way for a criminal prosecution.


Despite the fact there are many issues still unresolved for medical marijuana users, undercover officers have been dispatched in force to lure legal marijuana users into violating some unclear or even technical aspect of the Act so as to allow criminal prosecution. The fact that a legal medical marijuana user was intending in good faith to follow the law is generally irrelevant in a criminal prosecution.


All people are always required to follow all laws; regardless of their erroneous but good faith views about complying with the law. We all know ignorance of the law is no excuse. Medical marijuana users are well advised to proceed with extreme caution and avoid pushing the limits of the yet unresolved edges of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.


(Marc J. Victor is with the law firm of Marc J. Victor, P.C. and a certified specialist in criminal law) 

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See's full Terms of Use for more information.