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AZ High Court Rules Felons on Probation Can Use Medical Marijuana

Mark Miller

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A man convicted of selling pot will still be able to legally use medical marijuana after the Arizona Supreme Court handed a dual victory to a specialized group of pot patients on Tuesday by rendering two separate decisions prohibiting prosecutors and courts from banning medicinal cannabis consumption by felons on probation.

In one case, a probation officer had barred Keenan Reed-Kaliher, who plead guilty to possession for sale in 2010 in Cochise County, from using medicinal cannabis; while the other involved Yavapai County prosecutors withdrawing a plea bargain deal after Jennifer Lee Ferrell, who copped to a 2012 DUI, refused to abstain from medical pot as a probationary condition.

The AZ high court ruled both convicts had the right to use marijuana for medical conditions, and that prosecutors and courts could not circumvent those rights. In the Reed-Kaliher case, the state Supreme Court was affirming a previous Arizona Court of Appeals decision.

The Supreme Court did rule the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office could withdraw the plea bargain offer from Ferrell because it had yet to be accepted by a judge. Reed-Kaliher’s plea agreement was made prior to medicinal marijuana being legalized in Arizona in 2011, so it was not affected.

Predictably disagreeing with the decisions were Arizona prosecutors, including Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who infamously insulted Vietnam veteran Don Ream at a March medical marijuana debate in Tempe by referring to the pot patient audience member as an “enemy.”

In an email to the Arizona Republic, Montgomery claimed the Supreme Court ruling reflects the fact Prop 203—voter-approved in 2010—did not take into consideration the impact medical marijuana use has on such issues as case resolutions and plea bargains.   However, defense attorney Marc Victor—Montgomery’s opponent in that March debate—pointed out the high court made the correct decision, because Prop 203 specifically dictates that a patient’s right to use medical pot cannot be taken away.

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