I’ll be the first person to say that marijuana laws in the United States and elsewhere can be confusing – most of that confusion is related to the rapidly changing laws that are in place (and some federal laws that are not there, yet). Marijuana laws somewhere in the U.S. (or in Canada or Mexico) change almost daily, and doing your research (or reading blogs like this one) is key to protecting yourself from arrest, fines, or just misinformation. This became extremely obvious to a 54-year-old Arizona man named Lon Victor Post in Golden Valley, Arizona, this week who was arrested for smoking marijuana in a car in his neighbor’s front yard (yeah, that isn’t a good idea in any state, Lon). Why didn’t Post think this may be a bad idea? Because he didn’t think cannabis was illegal in Arizona.
If you recall, Arizona was the state that voted not to legalize recreational marijuana in November of 2016, and was also the state with the fake Colorado marijuana statistics in its advertising campaign against recreational legalization.
Why Was Arizona’s Marijuana Prop Voted Down?
Given the opportunity to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana with Prop 205 in 2016, Arizona voted no by 51.32% and yes by 48.68%, which resulted in the voting down of the measure. Although the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative was defeated, the vote was close; expect to see more initiatives put forward in the coming years. Despite recreational marijuana remaining illegal in Arizona, medical marijuana was legalized back in 1996, and Proposition 203 was approved despite intense conflict within the state. The Marijuana Policy Project contributed the most ($1,148,998.50) to Arizona’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, and Discount Tire ($1 million) and Insys Therapeutics ($500,000) contributed the most money against the campaign.
Why Doesn’t Insys Want Medical Marijuana Legalized in Arizona?
Insys is currently developing several marijuana-related products, including an oral solution to help with nausea and loss of appetite in cancer, anorexia, and AIDS patients and a cannabidiol-based medicine for severe childhood epilepsy. Several former Insys Therapeutics executives were recently arrested on charges that they unethically pushed doctors to prescribe Subsys, a fentanyl (read: highly addictive opioid) medication, to patients in exchange for kickbacks. Insys made $148.4 million from Subsys sales over six months in 2016. It’s clear that Insys doesn’t want the competition for patients and medical alternatives that legal recreational cannabis might bring to the Grand Canyon State. I guess it’s all about profits for them, which I don’t think is right in the field of medicine.
Why Did Lon Victor Post Get Arrested for Marijuana in Arizona?
Honestly, Post (pictured right) just didn’t know marijuana was still illegal in Arizona – at least that’s what the 54-year-old man told the Mohave Police Department. Although Prop 205 failed in 2016, that doesn’t mean Post won’t be able to consume recreational marijuana in the coming years – after all, the initiative was only voted down by 2.64%. That’s a pretty small margin, but the law is the law, and Post ran afoul of it. Someone (the neighbor whose yard he was parked in, maybe?) called the police on Post, who was sitting in his car at 1:36 a.m. playing loud music.
When police arrived, Post was sitting near his car and the scent of marijuana was wafting through the air. Post had a baggie of marijuana sticking out of his shirt pocket, and no medical marijuana license for the state of Arizona. Post protested his arrest, believing that marijuana was legal, and attempted to fight the police officers. Never a good idea, Post! Post was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, possession of paraphernalia, and possession of marijuana, which are all felonies carrying at least 4 months to 2 years and $150,000 fines in the state of Arizona. We can only hope Arizona goes easy on Post – that’s a lot of time and money for both Arizona’s justice system and Post.
Photo of Lon Post courtesy of the Mohave Police Department.