Arizona medical marijuana users have faced frustrating obstacles every step of the way thus far, so it may come as no surprise that they are now encountering trouble with local law enforcement. According to Scottsdale, Arizona attorney Adam Trenk, dozens of patients have been arrested, raided or otherwise harassed by police. Trenk even tells of a case brought to his office, “where the SWAT team went and raided a gentleman’s home.”
While no police departments in Arizona have officially taken a stand against state law, some have jumped on the opportunity by aggressively arresting marijuana users. In February, the infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio vowed to crack down on marijuana users and traffickers, who act outside the legal medical realm. His administration saw the medical marijuana law as an opportunity to vigorously attack unlicensed users of marijuana.
Many Arizona residents are frustrated by officials following their own prejudices and notions, in spite of laws legally passed by voters. Arizona resident, Michael Sanderfer believes, “the police need to back off. Since the law was agreed upon, they need to accept the law and quit doing this.”
It is well-known that federal law still prohibits marijuana, however state officials are required to enforce state law, not federal. Even the notoriously strict Arpaio promised that he would “not stand in the way of those operating legitimately and legally under state law.” It is obvious therefore, that these officers arresting legal patients are operating outside the law. Whether they are acting on personal conviction or simply following orders from supervisors, action needs to be taken to protect innocent civilians.
One of the many benefits of regulated marijuana, is saving resources from being wasted on non-violent offenders. If Arizona citizens are arrested for nonexistent crimes, the purpose is ultimately defeated. Courthouses will be filled with people who will be paying nothing in fines, and using up valuable court time. Patients who legally obtain medication will have their time wasted going to jail and eventually court, and have their money wasted in paying attorneys they shouldn’t even need.
Residents, especially those who benefit from medical marijuana, should be allowed to use legal avenues without fear of unauthorized persecution from officers. The current situation simply serves to confuse citizens and officials, who simply want to live without having their civil liberties infringed upon. Michael Sandefer argues, “we voted for it, let it work.” As Adam Trenk advises, “if the person is a qualified patient and they have the ID card, they need to be left alone by police.”
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