Tourists With Medical Marijuana Cards Can Use Cannabis In Arizona, Court Says

Photo Credit: Pat Shannahan

People from elsewhere who have medical marijuana cards and are visiting the Grand Canyon state can possess and use medical marijuana, the Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled.

A three-judge panel upheld that a physician recommendation for cannabis under California’s Compassionate Use Act is equivalent to cards issued under Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act.

The decision upholds an earlier ruling by a La Paz County Superior Court judge.

The question centered on a 2016 case in which state police pulled over Stanley Kemmish Jr., who had a California medical marijuana card. Kemmish was indicted on one count of possession of narcotic drugs, and one count each of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Kemmish argued he was allowed to possess the items under Arizona’s medical marijuana law because he had a doctor’s recommendation for the cannibis.

Appellate court panel: Qualified visiting patients have immunity

Prosecutors disagreed, saying the physician letter was not equivalent to possessing a medical-pot patient card, issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

For its decision, the appellate court’s panel relied on the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which gives “visiting qualifying patients” the same immunity as those with Arizona medical marijuana cards, the ruling says.

“Whether another state’s medical marijuana law requires an identification card, a physician’s letter, or some other documentation is immaterial, so long as the documentation is sufficient under the law of the issuing state,” the court opinion states.

Out-of-state medical marijuana users are not allowed to buy marijuana from Arizona dispensaries, however.

Arizona voters approved the medical marijuana program in 2010 for conditions such as chronic pain and cancer. The program didn’t gain momentum until late 2012, when dispensaries began to open.

About 153,000 people participate in the program. Last year, Arizonans bought 1.3 million ounces of marijuana — about 86,637 pounds, according to a state report.