Tag: Arizona

As California Legalizes, Laws Collide at US Checkpoints

PINE VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — California legalizes marijuana for recreational use Monday, but that won’t stop federal agents from seizing the drug — even in tiny amounts — on busy freeways and backcountry highways.

Marijuana possession still will be prohibited at eight Border Patrol checkpoints in California, a reminder that state and federal laws collide when it comes to cannabis. The U.S. government classifies marijuana as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.


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“Prior to Jan. 1, it’s going to be the same after Jan. 1, because nothing changed on our end,” said Ryan Yamasaki, an assistant chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector. “If you’re a federal law enforcement agency, you uphold federal laws.”

The checkpoints, located up to 100 miles (161 kilometers) from Mexico, are considered a final line of defense against immigrants who elude agents at the border. They also have been a trap for U.S. citizens carrying drugs, even tiny bags of marijuana.

About 40 percent of cannabis seizures at Border Patrol checkpoints from fiscal years 2013 to 2016 were an ounce (28 grams) or less from U.S. citizens, according to a Government Accountability Office report last month. California’s new law allows anyone 21 and over to carry up to an ounce.

Motorists typically are released after being photographed and fingerprinted. They generally aren’t charged with a crime.

The Border Patrol operates 34 permanent checkpoints along the Mexican border and an additional 103 “tactical” stops, typically cones and signs that appear for brief periods.

Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of parent agency Customs and Border Protection, called drug seizures an “ancillary effect” of enforcing immigration laws. Motorists typically are released after being photographed and fingerprinted. They generally aren’t charged with a crime because prosecutors consider them low priority.

The clash between state and federal marijuana laws played out on a smaller scale near the Canadian border in Washington after that state legalized marijuana in 2014. California is a far busier route for illegal crossings with many more agents.


ICE Uses a Cannabis Misdemeanor To Arrest, Deport

State and federal marijuana laws have conflicted since California became the first to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996. Next week, California will be among seven states and Washington, D.C., with legal recreational cannabis.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of legalization, said last month that he was taking a close look at federal enforcement, suggesting a tougher stance than President Barack Obama’s administration.

At highway checkpoints, Border Patrol agents look for signs of nervous drivers, like clutching steering wheels and avoiding eye contact and interrupting when passengers are asked to state citizenship. Some panicked drivers make a U-turn when they spot the checkpoint, a dead giveaway.


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One recent morning on westbound Interstate 8 about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of San Diego, an agent standing outside a booth under a large white canopy stopped drivers for a few seconds to ask their citizenship or waved them through after peering inside.

In about an hour, three raised enough suspicion to be ordered aside for a thorough vehicle search.

A dog discovered a marijuana stash about the size of a thumbprint inside the pickup truck of a man with Arizona license plates who was taking his elderly uncle to a hospital appointment. It would have taken up to an hour to process the arrest, so agents released him after seizing the cannabis and warning it was illegal.

“I didn’t know that, sorry,” the driver said, walking to his truck after waiting on a bench a few minutes while the dog searched.


Are Extracts Illegal in Arizona? Not So Fast

The animal sniffed something in another car but found nothing in the seats or trunk. The apologetic driver said she smoked marijuana a week earlier, implying the odor lingered.

The Pine Valley checkpoint, amid oak- and chaparral-covered mountains on the main route from Arizona to San Diego, gets busy with drivers returning from weekend getaways but is less traveled than others.

Agents say a checkpoint on Interstate 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles can cause a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) backup in 90 seconds during peak hours.

The government faces pushback over checkpoints. Some residents complain about delays and trespassers trying to circumvent checkpoints — some even dying from heat and exhaustion. Motorists who consider them a privacy invasion steadfastly refuse to answer questions and post their test encounters on YouTube.


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Border Patrol officials insist they are effective. Without them, Vitiello said, smugglers would have open passage to cities like Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico, once past the border.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that agents can question people at checkpoints even without reason to believe anyone in the vehicle is in the country illegally and don’t need a search warrant.

Michael Chernis, an attorney who represents people charged with marijuana crimes, believes checkpoint seizures are a waste of resources but acknowledged the government is empowered.

“The bottom line is, there’s absolutely no protection against federal interaction when it comes to adult use,” he said.

In Photos: Arizona’s First Drive-Thru Dispensary Is an Old Bank

Arizona saw the launch of its first drive-thru cannabis dispensary over the weekend, with Sun City-based All Greens beginning to serve patients through the window of a former bank building.

The two-story, 6,500-square-foot shop, which opened Oct. 27, is among the largest medical marijuana dispensaries in the nation, according to CEO Anthony Harrington. “The facility was previously a bank with a massive vault, which we utilize for our inventory safe,” he told Leafly, “but most importantly we are now able to operate the drive-thru.”


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Getting regulators to OK a drive-thru was no easy task, Harrington added. It took six months of legal battles with the state, “but we were finally able to prove to the state that we can provide a safe and compliant process for our drive-thru and the community.”

Photographer Caitlin O’Hara took a trip to All Greens to see the drive-thru in action.

Mary Jo Chace, receptionist and bud tender, helps a customer on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz.
The first drive-through dispensary in Arizona on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz.


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Patients browse on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz. There is a wide age range of clientelle, given the dispensary’s close proximity to retirement communities and to Phoenix.
Andi Gonzalez, patient counselor and bud tender, prepares pre-rolled joints for a weekly promotion on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz.


Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Arizona, Fall 2017

Patients browse on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz. There is a wide age range of clientelle, given the dispensary’s close proximity to retirement communities and to Phoenix.
A patient orders at the first drive-through dispensary in Arizona on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz.


The Nearest Dispensaries to the Airports in Legal States

CEO Anthony Harrington, shows a photographer the converted bank vault turned inventory vault on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz. At the end of the night, the crew rolls display cases on wheels into the secure vault.
The converted bank vault turned inventory vault on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz. At the end of the night, the crew rolls display cases on wheels into the secure vault.


Infographic: The Fastest-Trending Cannabis Strain in Every State in 2017

CEO Anthony Harrington helps a patient on Oct. 30, 2017 at All Greens medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City, Ariz.

Insys Founder Arrested, Charged with Racketeering

John Kapoor, the 74-year-old founder and majority owner of Insys Therapeutics Inc., was arrested today and charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to profit by using bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients experiencing breakthrough pain.

‘These Insys executives allegedly fueled the opioid epidemic by paying doctors to needlessly prescribe an extremely dangerous and addictive form of fentanyl.

Phillip Coyne, federal agent

Kapoor was arrested this morning in Arizona and charged with RICO conspiracy, as well as other felonies, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law, according to a Department of Justice press release. Kapoor, the former Executive Chairman of the Board and CEO of Insys, will appear in federal court in Phoenix today. He will appear in U.S. District Court in Boston at a later date.

Leafly reported last year that Insys donated half a million dollars to the campaign to defeat adult-use cannabis legalization in Arizona.

Fentanyl is the synthetic opioid, cheaper and stronger than heroin, that’s turning North America’s opioid crisis into a catastrophe. Fentanyl is the drug that killed Prince. It’s up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Pockets of the Midwest and Northeast are getting shredded by fentanyl. In July alone, the town of Akron, Ohio, documented nearly 300 overdoses and two dozen deaths linked to the drug. A surge in fentanyl-related overdose deaths last year forced officials in British Columbia to declare a public health emergency.

Last year federal agents arrested two Insys officials in New York state for allegedly carrying out a kickback scheme that paid physicians to encourage their patients to use fentanyl. That indictment came four months after an Insys regional manager pleaded guilty to similar charges of rigging a doctor kickback scheme in the South.


Why Did Fentanyl Maker Insys Give $500K to Defeat Legalization?

Other state attorneys general continue to investigate the company’s practices. Meanwhile, Insys has continued to report record revenues.

Cannabis Cutting Into Profits

Many saw Insys’ donations to defeat adult-use cannabis legalization—which failed in Arizona last November—as a way to keep a competing (and safer) drug out of the market. A reported 28,647 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2014. In the past century, the number of people who died from cannabis overdoses is exactly zero.

In recent years, researchers have documented a clear phenomenon: In states that legalize medical marijuana, opioid usage and overdose rates decline dramatically. Patients seeking relief from chronic pain are finding medical cannabis to be a safer, cheaper, more reliable form of relief that comes without the side effects of physical addiction and possible death. Castlight Health, a California health information and technology company, found in a recent report on opioid abuse that “states with medical marijuana laws have a lower opioid abuse rate than those that don’t.”


The Biology of Cannabis vs. Opioids for Pain Relief

Other Insys Officials Charged

The federal indictment unsealed today in Boston also includes additional allegations against several former Insys executives and managers who were initially indicted in December 2016.

Kapoor and Insys execs stand accused of bribing doctors and defrauding insurers.

The superseding indictment charges that Kapoor; Michael L. Babich, 40, of Scottsdale, Ariz., former CEO and President of the company; Alec Burlakoff, 42, of Charlotte, N.C., former Vice President of Sales; Richard M. Simon, 46, of Seal Beach, Calif., former National Director of Sales; former Regional Sales Directors Sunrise Lee, 36, of Bryant City, Mich., and Joseph A. Rowan, 43, of Panama City, Fla.; and former Vice President of Managed Markets, Michael J. Gurry, 53, of Scottsdale, Ariz., conspired to bribe practitioners in various states, many of whom operated pain clinics, in order to get them to prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication.  The medication, called “Subsys,” is a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense breakthrough pain.  In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer.

The indictment also alleges that Kapoor and the six former executives conspired to mislead and defraud health insurance providers who were reluctant to approve payment for the drug when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients.  They achieved this goal by setting up the “reimbursement unit,” which was dedicated to obtaining prior authorization directly from insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.


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“In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit,” said Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb. “Today’s arrest and charges reflect our ongoing efforts to attack the opioid crisis from all angles. We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable – just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer.”

Corporate Culture of Deception, Bribery

“As alleged, these executives created a corporate culture at Insys that utilized deception and bribery as an acceptable business practice, deceiving patients, and conspiring with doctors and insurers,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “The allegations of selling a highly addictive opioid cancer pain drug to patients who did not have cancer, make them no better than street-level drug dealers. Today’s charges mark an important step in holding pharmaceutical executives responsible for their part in the opioid crisis.   The FBI will vigorously investigate corrupt organizations with business practices that promote fraud with a total disregard for patient safety.”


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“These Insys executives allegedly fueled the opioid epidemic by paying doctors to needlessly prescribe an extremely dangerous and addictive form of fentanyl,” said Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “Corporate executives intent on illegally driving up profits need to be aware they are now squarely in the sights of law enforcement.”

“As alleged, Insys executives improperly influenced health care providers to prescribe a powerful opioid for patients who did not need it, and without complying with FDA requirements, thus putting patients at risk and contributing to the current opioid crisis,” said Mark A. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Metro Washington Field Office. “Our office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to pursue and bring to justice those who threaten the public health.”

Are Extracts Illegal in Arizona? Not So Fast

You don’t have to be a botanist to know that cannabis and marijuana are the same thing. A recent ruling out of Arizona, however, turns on precisely that distinction—and could have major consequences for the state’s patients and dispensaries.

At stake is the legality of cannabis concentrates, including vape cartridges, tinctures, dabbable extracts, and even edibles. If a higher court agrees with a Navajo County judge’s decision that “cannabis” isn’t covered by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, all those products could be declared illegal narcotics and pulled from store shelves.


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As Ray Stern of the Phoenix New Times explains, the ruling stems from an apparent contradiction between Arizona’s medical cannabis law and the state’s criminal code on cannabis:

The problem is that the [medical] law, which was approved narrowly by voters in 2010, includes a definition for marijuana and “any mixture or preparation thereof.” Yet Arizona’s criminal code on pot, written prior to 1960, defines both marijuana and a strange substance called “cannabis,” which comes from marijuana resin but apparently isn’t marijuana. It’s officially a “narcotic” under this old law, carrying a stiffer felony designation and penalties.

The friction between the two laws came to the fore this summer, when Navajo County law enforcement told a grand jury that a Prescott resident with a valid medical marijuana card was not legally permitted to possess “cannabis”—in this case, a few grams of extracted resin.

According to the New Times, an unidentified prosecutor on the case told the grand jury that “the medical marijuana act … does not authorize a person to use or possess cannabis.”


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It’s the kind of confusion one might expect a court to clear up. Instead, Navajo County Superior Court Judge Dale Nielson doubled down, writing in a ruling this month that the state’s medical cannabis law does not, in fact, allow cannabis.

“Without further definition, or information that cannabis can be extracted from a ‘dried flower,’ the court cannot find that this would include cannabis.”

court ruling

In a motion filed with the court, attorney Jon Saline, who represents the defendant in the case, had called the prosecutor’s claims “dishonest and misleading” and asked the Nielson to send the case back to the grand jury. But Nielson rejected the motion, allowing the felony charges to go forward.

The judge wrote that, under Arizona criminal law, “cannabis” is defined as “the resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus cannabis, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or its resin.” (Cannabis “oil or cake” made from the plant’s seeds or stems, he noted, is an exception.)

“After review of the statues the court finds that the AMMA does not include cannabis,” the judge wrote. “The court reads that AMMA language of ‘any mixture or preparation thereof’ as making reference to the dried flowers of the plant and as such, without further definition, or information that cannabis can be extracted from a ‘dried flower,’ the court cannot find that this would include cannabis.”


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Saline has said he plans to ask the Arizona Court of Appeals to stay the case. “They’ll take it seriously because it’s a gray area of the law,” he told the New Times. “It’s an issue of statewide importance.”

Confusing the situation further, a ruling out of Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, ruled the opposite way. In 2014, after Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery hit a patient with a felony narcotics charge for having a single piece of THC-infused candy, a Maricopa judge ruled that the state’s medical cannabis law indeed “authorizes qualifying patients to use extracts, including CBD oil, prepared from the marijuana plant.”

Neither the 2014 ruling nor Judge Nielson’s decision in October creates statewide precedent, meaning it’s not clear how courts in other jurisdictions might rule. Conceivably any patient caught with cannabis concentrates could be charged with a narcotics felony.


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Appealing the current case could help settle the issue—but the effort could fall either way. If the appeals court, or eventually the state Supreme Court, were to rule that “cannabis”—meaning extracts—were indeed illegal, it could mean mayhem for the state’s medical marijuana market. More than half of products sold at Arizona dispensaries sell cannabis concentrates.

Joe DeMenna, a representative of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, told Leafly on Tuesday the expects the matter to be resolved more smoothly.

“The Arizona dispensaries association is continually monitoring the situation in Navajo County,” he told Leafly, “and we expect the court to ultimately rule in a manner similar to the ruling in Maricopa County.”

Arizona Supreme Court Won’t Review Key Cannabis Ruling

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court is letting stand a lower court’s ruling that the state’s medical marijuana law is constitutional in requiring counties to approve reasonable zoning regulations.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery had appealed a Court of Appeals ruling last December that rejected his argument that the state medical marijuana law is pre-empted by the federal Controlled Substances Act.

That federal law still makes marijuana illegal.


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The case in the appeal decided by the appeals court started with a legal dispute over whether Maricopa County officials had to approve zoning for a medical marijuana dispensary in Sun City.

Montgomery argued that allowing Arizona’s medical marijuana program to stand despite the federal law undermines federalism and the “fundamental principle of the rule of law.”

Elevation Gain: Leafly’s Guide to the 7 Best High Hikes in Arizona

You can spend your day taking in the gorgeous views surrounding the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk, but it wouldn’t do Arizona’s other hiking spots—with their own natural beauty and charms—much justice. And to pair those stunning hikes with some mind-opening cannabis will have you flying high over the Copper State’s sandstone and arid desert plains.


Cannabis in the Great Outdoors: Tips, Tricks, and Advice for Hiking, Backpacking and More

So stock up on your favorite strains and discover a brand new trailhead as you explore Arizona’s many awesome high hikes.

Flatiron via Siphon Draw Trail – Lost Dutchman State Park

If you’re searching for a hike with a quintessential Arizona feel, set out on Flatiron via Siphon Draw Trail. Recommended for advanced hikers, you’ll run into gorgeous desert wildflowers such as white poppies and owl clover before reaching the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the greater Phoenix area and Lost Dutchman State Park. Take a breather at the top with the perfect pre-roll in hand.

Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 5.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,097 ft.

Product Pairing: An uplifting pre-roll to enhance the spectacular view. Reach for a pack of HiFi Pre-Rolls by Huxton and get ready to light up over an incredible landscape.

Mooney Falls and Havasu Falls – Havasupai Indian Reservation

Due to this trail’s popularity, you must have a permit before attempting this impressive multi-day hike. Havasu Falls is a pristine desert oasis within Arizona’s rugged wilderness. From the mammoth 200-foot Mooney Waterfall to the not-so-secret rock shelter hidden behind Havasu, you’ll want to stay awhile and soothe your tired muscles with a dip in the pool and a sweet cannabis treat.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 21 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,514 ft.

Product Pairing: Edibles are always convenient on a long trail. Pop some of YiLo’s sweet Cherry Tootsies for a discreet yet delicious kick of potency.


Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Arizona, Summer 2017

Broken Arrow Trail – Coconino National Forest

Just because this hike is short doesn’t mean it lacks in spectacular views and breathtaking scenery. Broken Arrow Trail leads to Chicken Point where you’ll have the opportunity to view both the Twin Buttes and the vast Mund’s Mountain Wilderness. With Arizona’s colorful rock formations and seasonal greenery, you’ll want to plan this hike around sunset to bask in the glow of the fading sun as it enhances a rainbow landscape.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 325 ft.

Product Pairing: A convenient vape pen to use throughout the trail. Check out the Citrus Sap oil cartridge by Arizona Natural Selections for an uplifting and creative buzz that will complement the gorgeous Broken Arrow views.

Antelope Canyon – Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park

Arguably one of the most unique and stunning hikes in all of North America is Antelope Canyon, and though a short distance to walk, this trail belongs at the top of every adventure-lover’s bucket list. Close to the border of Arizona and Utah, Antelope is a richly colorful and visually hypnotizing slot canyon that has been kept surprisingly under wraps. Bring your camera—you’ll want a shot of the inner sandstone as you explore pathways illuminated by streams of sunlight.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 118 ft.

Product Pairing:  A joint stuffed with the delicious hybrid Gelato by Exotics by Berner to enhance this awe-inspiring trail. Take a puff before entering the slot canyon for a mesmerizing and mind-opening adventure.


Elevation Gain: 5 Cannabis Smoking Essentials to Take on the Trail

Devil’s Bridge Trail – Coconino National Forest

Punctuated by beautiful prickly pear cactus and jaw-dropping views, Devil’s Bridge Trail is always a winning hike. Adventure-seekers can climb atop Devil’s Bridge, the largest stone arch in the Sedona area, for better sights and the chance to cross a famous natural wonder. This hike fills up fast, so get there early before the crowds and try to reach the top by sunrise for an extra-magical experience.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

Product Pairing: A bowl full of stimulating sativa to maximize those incredible views. Pack a pipe of Sour Diesel by Sunday Goods and you’ll be set for an amazing trip.

Plateau Point via Bright Angel Trail — Grand Canyon National Park

You’ll be rewarded with views of the sparkling Colorado River when you head out to Plateau Point via Bright Angel Trail, and you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported across land and time as you navigate switchbacks and look out on miles of country untouched by human hands. Save for a few rest stops every 1.5 miles, you’ll get to experience Grand Canyon National Park in all its rocky glory without any distractions from the natural setting.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 10.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,356 ft.

Product Pairing: A natural edible to take on those switchbacks. Nab some Honey Sticks by Vital V to reset your mind and heighten the sights.


Elevation Gain: How I Survived Backpacking With My Friends Using Edibles

Reavis Ranch – Superstition Wilderness

Hit this trail in the fall when the grass is green and the wild apples start to ripen. Reavis Ranch is a gorgeous trail through the Arizona landscape and is the perfect place to pitch a tent and spend a few nights under the stars. You’ll pass through meadows, canyons, forests, and plains on this long yet truly captivating hike.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 24.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,560 ft.

Product Pairing: A pre-loaded cartridge that you can easily reach. Pair your vape battery with K.I.N.D. Concentrates‘ euphoric hybrid Tangerine Dream.

Arizona Supreme Court to Hear Lawsuit Over Medical Marijuana on Campus

In a case that could have broad implications for Arizona medical marijuana patients, the state Supreme Court will hear a challenge to law outlawing the possession of medical marijuana on college campuses.

Plaintiff Andre Maestas, a medical marijuana patient, filed a lawsuit after being arrested on the Arizona State University campus for possessing doctor-recommended cannabis. His lawyer argues that the state had no legal authority to criminalize on-campus possession and is asking the court to throw out Maestas’ conviction.

Maestas was arrested by Arizona State University campus police in 2014 after they found 0.4 grams of cannabis in his dorm room. According to Verde News, Maestas himself told the officers about the cannabis.


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His attorney, Thomas Dean says the 2010 initiative that legalized possession of medical marijuana listed only a handful of specific places where people could not use the drug, including public schools and prisons. It said nothing about university campuses, he argues in the lawsuit.

Then, in 2012, lawmakers voted to extend the scope of the law to include university campuses. Dean contends that change runs foul of the state’s Voter Protection Act, a constitutional provision that prohibits lawmakers from repealing or altering voter-approved ballot measures.

Dean told Verde News that what voters voted and passed in 2010 was not what legislators approved in 2012.


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“The purpose of this act is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties,” Dean said, quoting from the 2010 law.

Not allowing patients to consume at a university they attend, he said, runs counter to what state voters approved.

According to reports, Maestas was originally stopped for allegedly obstructing traffic on campus. After a search of his wallet turned up a medical cannabis card, he acknowledged having cannabis in his room.


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The statement lead to police obtaining and executing a search warrant. Officers found less than 0.02 ounces—far below the 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana that patients in Arizona can legally possess. A Maricopa County judge found Maestas guilty of drug possession, fining him $1,000 and placing him on unsupervised probation.

A state appellate court later overturned that ruling, prompting state Attorney General Mark Brnovich to seek review by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Robot Budtenders Are Coming to Scan Your Fingerprints

For anyone who’s ever been too anxious or paranoid to interact with a living, breathing human being when buying cannabis, one company has a solution.

Phoenix-based American Green, a medical cannabis technology company, has introduced a vending machine that uses biometric verification (read: a fingerprint scan) to sell controlled or age-restricted items.

While the device could theoretically be used to sell just about anything—casino chips, booze, and even guns have been floated as possibilities—American Green has its sights on, well… suffice it to say the company is called American Green.

The machine, called the ZaZZZ according to the company’s website, debuted at a Las Vegas convention last month. While it’s not yet approved for use in any legal-cannabis state, industry insiders believe it could eventually be rolled out in states like California that allow cannabis sales outside of licensed dispensaries.


An Insider’s Guide to California’s Proposed Medical Marijuana Regulations

According to USA Today’s Zlati Meyer, who first reported the story, the machine is able to screen potential buyers not just for age, but also, in medical states, to be sure they have valid doctor recommendations:

The unique feature of the prototype is that it can screen potential buyers. A customer sets up an account with a government-issued identification and, when needed, a doctor’s prescription. A scan of the account holder’s finger verifies it’s the right person. The machine is outfitted with a camera.

Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, tells USA Today that the device “could make individuals who need [cannabis] more comfortable. They won’t run into their pastor or kindergarten teacher outside a dispensary.”

Unless, of course, their pastor or kindergarten teacher is in line for the cannabis vending machine.


When Seniors Visit a Cannabis Store, There Are Questions Aplenty

Security is apparently a top concern for the company, and USA Today says the company has planned for some scenarios that are, frankly, pretty gruesome:

Don’t even think about cutting off someone else’s finger to gain access to his or her account, though. [American Green’s former chief operating officer] explained that the finger scanner looks at vein architecture and if there’s no blood flowing through the dismembered digit, nothing will show up.


While the ZaZZZ is chalk full of bells and whistles (and capital z’s), it’s not the first vending machine to offer cannabis products, as Time’s Brad Tuttle reports:

As surprising as it may sound, some vending machines already do sell marijuana. One machine, also operated by American Green, popped up in Seattle in 2015, and a marijuana dispensary in Vancouver introduced the first pot vending machine in Canada last year. But with these machines, there is always an employee on hand who will be checking ID before anyone can make a purchase.

Can’t get enough robot budtenders? Check out the USA Today video below. Or go old-school and read about security cows.

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Arizona, Spring 2017


Spring 2017

The Leafly List ranks the top dispensaries and retail stores in each of the major North American cannabis markets every quarter. This region-specific version is designed to provide helpful, community-based information for cannabis consumers looking for the most relevant dispensaries in Arizona. It highlights the most talked-about locations in the state based on customer feedback metrics* and reviews of each location’s quality, service, and atmosphere. Check out the Leafly List FAQ for more information on how dispensaries are ranked.

The Leafly List is based on 100% objective customer feedback and data collected by Leafly. Businesses CANNOT pay for a spot on the list.

Phoenix, AZ

Swell <strong>Medical</strong> <strong>Marijuana</strong> Dispensary in <strong>Phoenix</strong> <strong>Arizona</strong> - November Leafly List

Phoenicians are initially drawn to Swell Farmacy for their generous new patient special, but they keep coming back for the rotating daily specials, attentive and knowledgeable budtenders, and wide selection of top-notch products. Open seven days a week, Swell’s Phoenix location more than lives up to its name.

Index: 93.44

What People are Saying:

“I can’t wait to return to Swell. Amazing strains at affordable prices daily. Huge fan of the preroll pack! Some of the friendliest staff in town this is a must visit!!!”—dread432

2439 West McDowell Rd. Phoenix, AZ

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Centrally located in Phoenix, Nature’s AZ Medicines provides patients with a transparent cannabis experience, supplying its medicine from bulk quantities and operating as a licensed non-profit dispensary.

Index: 92.15

What People are Saying:

“My favorite dispensary always has the best concentrates. Almost all the budtenders are excellent. Best prices in town.” —speezy75

Phoenix, AZ

The Nirvana Center <strong>Medical</strong> <strong>Marijuana</strong> Dispensary - November Leafly List

The Nirvana Center might be the new kid in town, but this location is quickly gaining popularity points. It offers patients a free pre-roll with a $20 purchase during its daily happy hour, and visitors are impressed by the great selection, fair pricing, and downright comfy lobby no matter what time of day they visit.

Index: 91.45

What People are Saying:

“Best meds in Arizona, cant go wrong with any strains for low to top shelf. Will be back for sure.” —jgarcia71426

9420 W Bell Rd.Suite 108 Sun City, AZ

White Mountain Health Center <strong>medical</strong> <strong>marijuana</strong> dispensary in <strong>Sun City</strong>, Arizona

An array of daily specials and discounts makes White Mountain Health Center a top location in the Sun City area. Its friendly staff and quality cannabis have certainly attracted people to its location.

Index: 90.27

Also Featured In: Leafly List Winners of 2016

What People are Saying:

“Awesome place just remodeled they have an awesome new look ! Still have the same awesome staff and even better selection of tree and wax! On top of making their own edibles they now make their own shatter now and it’s some of the best concentrate on town don’t miss out stop by and check them out!,” —blaaaazed420710

4126 W. Indian School Rd Phoenix, AZ

Herbal Wellness Center medical cannabis dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona

Herbal Wellness Center stands on three core principles: high-quality cannabis, education, and care for its patients. Its efforts show with its organically grown flower and collection of refined and unique concentrates.

Index: 90.19+

What People are Saying:

“Fantastic! Best bud around town! Service is great and budline is fast! Always have something new to try too!” —STEVEHOLT

8160 W. Union Hills Dr. Glendale, AZ

The Greenhouse Arizona Medical Marijuana Dispensary - Leafly List

With a knowledgeable staff of patient consultants and great specials for Leafly visitors, The GreenHouse is a great choice for quality cannabis in Glendale.

Index: 90.19+

What People are Saying:

“Definitely my top pick for dispensaries, great flower, great prices, best part is the environment just very relaxed! love this place!!” —mystycarters

Phoenix, AZ

Desert Rose Medical Cannabis Dispensary in Phoenix Arizona
Desert Rose, in the Happy Valley area of northern Phoenix, has been quick to win patients over with a carefully curated menu featuring local favorite strains and products plus a wide array of edibles, all of which are paired with customer service that consistently goes above and beyond.

Index: 88.34

What People are Saying:

“Great meds at great prices keep me coming back for more!! Worth the scenic drive. Hands down, lowest prices in the West Valley” —Jules1111

2630 West Indian School Rd Phoenix, AZ

Urban Greenhouse medical marijuana dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona

Urban Greenhouse grows its own flower in a newly built state-of-the-art commercial cultivation facility. With its knowledgeable staff and handcrafted cannabis, you’re sure to find the best strain to meet your needs.

Index: 87.83

What People are Saying:

“This location has great customer service and they had me in and out in less than ten minutes. Excellent location to purchase flowers and oils.” –mrmedical92

Mesa, AZ

Green Pharm DIspensary Mesa - Arizona Leafly List Spring 2017

Green Pharms’s Mesa location might be new, but it’s already a crowd favorite. Patients love that the friendly, expert budtenders at this family owned and operated dispensary weigh out and package each order on demand, resulting in a truly ‘farm-to-pharma’ experience.

Index: 86.55

What People Are Saying:

“First time at a dispensary and they were very nice. They explained everything and helped suggest various strains based on my need … I can’t say enough good things about this location. The security team is awesome too!” –alexei23

1613 N 40th St Phoenix, AZ

Tru Med medical marijuana dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona

Tru|med is a clean, elegant dispensary with a convenient location and friendly staff. Aside from its beautiful aesthetic, Tru|med is known for its highly-rated house strains like its OG Kush and the Tru|med Blue Dream, as well as a wide selection of cannabis edibles.

Index: 85.73

What People are Saying:

“When you go to Trumed you get the experience you dreamed about before knowing what it looks like when you go to your first dispensary. The presentation along with how good the quality of there products are. Whenever I get any buds from here. They always have big nice dense nugs. The quality of the buds to the staff to everything else is why Trumed has become the #1 destination for my medical products.” —DOOFYDUDE1996

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*The Spring 2017 Leafly List uses customer service metrics from the three months prior to its month of publication.

**A maximum of two franchise locations of the same dispensary chain may be included on a single Leafly List. Additional locations, if applicable, have been omitted.

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