A Phoenix man who recently was authorized to grow his own marijuana fatally shot a man who tried to steal his pot at gunpoint.
Now for the tricky part: can the seller be charged with a crime?
Issue #1. The seller received his state-issued card on May 25th. But began advertizing and had mature plants for sale almost immediately. To a prosecutor, this might suggest the defendant/victim/grower was not such a strict observer of law and regulations as having complied with the state's program might suggest. To have those plants on hand this week, he had to have grown them before he was licensed by the state. That could get sticky for him.
Issue #2. On May 24th, Gov. Jan Brewer directed Attorney General Tom Horne to file a lawsuit asking a federal judge to weigh in on the legality of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). Citing concerns that state employees who process AMMA applications approving medicinal marijuana dispensaries could be jeapordized with federal prosecution for violating federal drug laws, Brewer claims to seek some sort of direction from the courts that state employees may move forward. But until such a response is received, the governor has directed that the application process be placed on hold (which WAS due to begin accepting dispensary applications on June 1st). Thusly, when the licensee involved in the shooting received his card the next day, on May 25th, there would be no dispensaries for the forseeable future. It seems he decided to try and fill that void in absence of an operating state. In the vacuum left by the state's abdication of its role in implimenting the program approved by the voters and the state government, was the grower within or outside of the law in filling that void? The decision may rest heavily on the answer to issue #1 above.
Issue #3. Possession of both drugs and guns at the same time. Because the feds have pioneered the sentencing enhancements for having both items at once, the state of Az. hasn't really focussed on doing this at the state level. But the fact that Az. has been liberalizing (making more free) its laws in regards to carrying guns, legislators, courts and gun rights activists are sensative to whatever might cast these efforts in a disparaging light. There are those who will seek to use this incident for such ill aims. Some gun rights advocates have been hesitant to say that those rights extend also to medical marijuana patients and staffers, and would be perfectly willing to throw them under the bus. Despite this, however, both Oregon and Rhode Island have affirmed that medical marijuana card holders retain all gun rights as the average citizen. Odd for states that are havens for liberalism, except when seen in light of trying to make Med. Marijuana work. Arizona, however, is quite Republican, and this could play differently here, even though the Arizona gun culture and community is perhaps the most ardent and vigorous in the nation. Currently, state law does not say having a gun and medical marijuana together is illegal,...yet, neither does it say that it is not illegal. This presents an opportunity for prosecutorial mayhem and recklessness involving Arizona gun law. All of which is completely separate from the federal liability this man is facing. Regardless of what does or does not happen to him at the state level,...I would bet my first born child he will be prosecuted federally for gun violations revolving around drugs.
This case will get very interesting, regardless of what happens, and it will have far-reaching effects. But it really all comes down to this: Does a legally-compliant medical marijuana grower have a right to self-defense? Once again, Arizona will be the focal point of ground breaking developments in the fight for liberty. We will keep you posted.