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Police Now Protecting Cannabis Users


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US AZ: Police Now Protecting Pot Users





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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v13/n278/a01.html

Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Sun, 16 Jun 2013

Source: Arizona Daily Sun (AZ)

Copyright: 2013 Arizona Daily Sun

Contact: http://news.azdailysun.com/opinion/letter_submit.cfm

Website: http://www.azdailysun.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1906

Author: Cyndy Cole





Legalization of marijuana for some people, in some circumstances, has created new roles for Flagstaff police as well.


Officers are now undergoing new training to determine when a cardholding marijuana user is nevertheless driving while impaired.


And they are also being educated about what medical marijuana cardholders can legally do.


"We've made it very clear to our officers that individuals participating in the medical marijuana program are law-abiding citizens as long as they're following the rules put forth by DHS," said Chief Kevin Treadway, referring to the Arizona Department of Health Services.


The state agency is the main writer of policy related to Arizona voters' 2010 decision to legalize marijuana for people with diagnoses. such as chronic pain, hepatitis C, cancer, AIDS, nausea or epilepsy.


The police, however, will be making a number of related decisions.


It will be up to a Flagstaff police officer to determine whether a driver is impaired even if using marijuana legally -- the same as for a driver older than 21 who has consumed alcohol.


"We have sent a number of our officers through drug-recognition training," Treadway said.


Unlike alcohol, though, there is no legal limit for how much marijuana is acceptable in a driver's bloodstream.


It will be up to patrol officers initially to determine impairment, and city prosecutors will have discretion in the cases they pursue after an arrest.


And Flagstaff police plan to keep enforcing laws prohibiting marijuana use for recreational purposes, Treadway said, along with checks for forgery of medical marijuana cards.


Just like with a bar, the police won't be sitting outside of dispensaries waiting for people to exit.


Owners of each of Flagstaff's two dispensaries have contacted the police ahead of opening their doors.


"Both of those owners called us and said, 'We'd like to meet with you,'" Treadway said.


The shift brings changes to enforcement of the drug laws, such as what to do with residences where people are growing marijuana, which is tricky.


Before the first Flagstaff dispensary opened, cardholders were permitted to grow their own marijuana within the limits set by the law.


But now, any cardholder living within 25 miles of the Flagstaff dispensaries is banned from growing marijuana.


But, in an exception to that rule, a person can be living next door to a dispensary and still growing marijuana if they're serving as a caregiver for a cardholder living more than 25 miles from a dispensary.


At the same time, the police need warrants to determine whether a home growing marijuana is actually the home of a certified, legal caregiver, Treadway said.


It's something of a change in thinking for the police, he said.


"When you mix large amounts of cash with drugs, very often you'll see criminal activity," Treadway said.


But now Flagstaff police will also play a role in protecting the dispensaries from criminal activity, like robbery.




MAP posted-by: Matt

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But, in an exception to that rule, a person can be living next door to a dispensary and still growing marijuana if they're serving as a caregiver for a cardholder living more than 25 miles from a dispensary.




I did not know that. People down there better start using that to their advantage. That could effectively nullify the growing ban.

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