Medical Marijuana Lawyers | Payson Office | Serving Miami, AZ
113 E Frontier St, Payson, AZ 85541
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Medical marijuana laws vary widely from state to state and federal law and even local zoning ordinances can be in conflict with state medical marijuana law. Those who have a medical marijuana registration card can still experience legal issues and may even face criminal charges.
With California becoming the first state to legalize the use and sale of medical marijuana in 1996 — the first state to challenge the federal government’s strict laws concerning anything to do with cannabis or marijuana — several states soon followed suit.
Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, is cannabis that has been authorized for medicinal use by a patient’s doctor. Many people use cannabis for medicinal purposes without lawful medical authorization and in certain jurisdictions, this can be risky. Without the protections offered to authorized patients, the use of the drug may be considered recreational rather than medicinal.
Despite the fact that it is unlikely to be prosecuted at the federal level for simple possession of marijuana, particularly if in a state that has loosened marijuana laws and/or if one is a medical marijuana patient, the federal government has ruled that federal law does prevail.
A first-time conviction for simple possession of marijuana — remembering that the federal government does not allow for any distinguishing for medicinal patients — is a misdemeanor offense. A second charge following a previous conviction leads to a felony offense. Trafficking of any sort is a felony offense with severe penalties.
However, possession of what is deemed to be a “personal amount” of marijuana may instead be a civil penalty (a fine of no more than $10,000 per violation).
Those convicted at the federal level for crimes related to marijuana — medical or recreational, as the federal government makes no distinction — could face a jail or prison sentence.
This is especially true when considering the trafficking of marijuana. Those dealing in large volumes of the drug could face a 10-year prison sentence.
Simple possession is a much less serious affair, and it is rare for federal resources to be spent on securing convictions, particularly given the legal argument for medical marijuana being made for patients at the state level. State laws vary, however, and in some states — such as Idaho, Kansas, Tennessee and South Carolina — marijuana remains entirely illegal for any purpose.
In states where the drug is illegal, even for those using it for medical purposes, punishments for simple possession range from fines to a jail stint of about six months. Distribution, or dealing, is treated more harshly. In some states, distributing small amounts of marijuana is a level 4 felony, resulting in a potential prison sentence of about four years in addition to a fine of up to $300,000.
While the TSA has explicitly stated that they do not search for marijuana, and do not consider the detection of marijuana in checked or carry-on baggage to be a priority, they have also publicly stated that if they do incidentally detect or find marijuana, they are forced to notify law enforcement.
Certain state agencies may not follow up with any further prosecution, while others may. Nonetheless, at this current point in time, federal law trumps state law on the subject, and the TSA does not endorse carrying marijuana on any flights under their administration.
If you are authorized to have medical marijuana, you must still comply with the laws of your state. If you are arrested for illegally obtaining a medical marijuana card or related offense while using marijuana, you will need the services of a medical marijuana lawyer to navigate through this new area of law.
No matter what your legal issue may be, it is always best to seek legal help early in the process. An attorney can help secure what is likely to be the best possible outcome for your situation and avoid both unnecessary complications or errors.
Prepare for your consultation by writing down notes of your understanding of the case, jot down questions and concerns for the attorney, and gather your documents. Remember that you are trying to get a sense of whether the attorney has your trust and can help you address your legal issues. Questions should include how the attorney intends to resolve your issue, how many years he/she has been practicing law and specifically practicing in your area, as well as how many cases similar to yours the attorney has handled. It can also be helpful to broach the subject of fees so that you understand the likely cost and structure of your representation by a specific attorney and/or legal team.
A reputable attorney will be very upfront about how he/she will charge you. The three most common fee structures that attorneys use to charge for their services are:
Depending on your specific legal situation, it’s possible that only one type of fee structure is available. For instance, criminal defense attorneys almost always bill by the hour. In a flat fee arrangement, an attorney accepts a one-time payment to help you resolve your issue. With a contingent fee agreement, the client pays little to nothing upfront and the attorney receives a percentage of the money recovered if you win your case.
Plaintiff – a person or party who brings a lawsuit against another person(s) or party/parties in a court of law. Private persons or parties can only file suit in civil court.
Judgment – A decision of the court. Also known as a decree or order. Judgments handed down by the court are usually binding on the parties before the court.