One of the defining moments of the latest war on medical marijuana in Arizona came last month when Gilbert SWAT officers raided the home of a patient suspected of having a single ounce of weed.

Ross Taylor's not only a bona fide, card-holding patient under the law, he also is the owner of the Cannabis Screening Centers, a business that hooks up people with doctors willing to recommend the use of marijuana.

He's a marijuana advocate, and he's a professional in what, since November, has been a legal industry. In April, he spoke about his business before the Gilbert Planning and Zoning Department. On June 9, he was in the process of moving into his new home in south Gilbert, near Higley and Riggs roads. He'd taken title to the home a day earlier; online records show that it was sold on June 8 for $262,200.

Garry Ferguson vowed to continue helping
patients obtain medical marijuana after
his Tempe "business" was raided by Gilbert police on June 16.
Jamie Peachey
Garry Ferguson vowed to continue helping patients obtain medical marijuana after his Tempe "business" was raided by Gilbert police on June 16.
Compassion clubs offer edibles to
patients who prefer not to smoke.
Jamie Peachey
Compassion clubs offer edibles to patients who prefer not to smoke.
Medical-marijuana advocates Bill Hayes
of the Arizona Cannabis Society (left)
and Nick Monte and Amber Wilson of the
Arizona Compassion Club help qualified
patients obtain their "medicine."
Jamie Peachey
Medical-marijuana advocates Bill Hayes of the Arizona Cannabis Society (left) and Nick Monte and Amber Wilson of the Arizona Compassion Club help qualified patients obtain their "medicine."
Though Arizona's dispensary industry is on
hold, licensed caregivers and cardholding patients can legally grow up to 12 marijuana plants for medicinal purposes.
Jamie Peachey
Though Arizona's dispensary industry is on hold, licensed caregivers and cardholding patients can legally grow up to 12 marijuana plants for medicinal purposes.
Cardholding patient and medical-marijuana
advocate Bill Hayes tokes up.
Jamie Peachey
Cardholding patient and medical-marijuana advocate Bill Hayes tokes up.
Staff members at the Arizona Compassion Club say they scrutinize carefully medical-marijuana cards (like this one) issued by the state Department of Health Services before helping patients obtain pot.
Jamie Peachey
Staff members at the Arizona Compassion Club say they scrutinize carefully medical-marijuana cards (like this one) issued by the state Department of Health Services before helping patients obtain pot.

Before his movers came, a DIRECTV installer had been setting up a satellite connection in an upstairs bedroom. While doing his work in the room's closet, the installer happened to see baggies of pot in two jars. After he finished the job, the installer called Gilbert police.

About 6:30 p.m., 11 police officers in masks and riot gear gathered outside the home.

This well-armed team of anti-dope crusaders carried a warrant signed by Highland Justice of the Peace Dan Dodge. The warrant shows police were investigating nothing more serious than a possession case, and the suspected amount of marijuana held by Taylor isn't specified. Police later said they were concerned that Taylor had an ounce of marijuana in his home. JP Dodge was never told that Taylor was legally allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana under the voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

Despite the new law, Arizona still is one of the few states in which possession of any amount of marijuana (unless you have a patient-registration card handy) is considered a felony. By all appearances, this was a major felony bust.

The cops cut the power and water, presumably to prevent any contraband from going down the toilet or garbage disposal, then pounded on the door and yelled for someone to open up. Taylor did so, and nine of the officers stormed into his new home. Two others waited outside, watching the front and back yards.

Some of the members of Gilbert's Special Investigations unit and SWAT-trained Criminal Apprehension Team were wearing masks and carrying shields. They displayed handguns, rifles, and shotguns in the "ready" position as they entered, according to a police report.

"They started screaming, 'Search warrant!'" Taylor tells New Times. "They said to turn around and walk toward the door.

"Luckily," he adds, "my son, who's 2 1/2, wasn't there."

The police report states that four men and a woman were taken out of the house. Another "disabled" woman on the second floor would have been a problem to remove from the home, so she was allowed to stay inside.

The report doesn't mention, however, that three of the men extracted from the home were from the All My Sons moving company.

Kevin Anderson, the company's local branch manager, confirms that the officers put the movers in handcuffs along with Taylor and his wife and detained them all for about an hour while a search of the home was conducted.

The police report, authored by Gilbert Detective Craig Avery, states that the bust was in "reference [to] an ongoing narcotics investigation" and that Avery was told by Sergeant Benny Fisher about Taylor's "making comments about selling marijuana."

As New Times reported in a June 16 Valley Fever blog post before the July 1 release of the police report, Sergeant Bill Balafas, the police department's spokesman, said the reason for the raid was that the Gilbert PD had received a tip that the homeowner was in possession of about an ounce of marijuana.

Balafas told the East Valley Tribune for a June 17 article that "the satellite worker who reported the possession told investigators that Taylor said he was selling the marijuana."

Taylor says an officer asked him whether he was dealing weed, and he denied it, though that exchange isn't mentioned in the report. Nothing else in the report supports the accusation, and police didn't state a word about it in the search warrant they requested from JP Dodge.

A spokesman at DIRECTV's headquarters assured New Times that he would check on the story of the snitching satellite installer and call back, but he never did.

Taylor recalls how the installer mentioned the marijuana he'd spotted in the closet.

"It's okay," Taylor says he told the man. "I'm a medical-marijuana patient, and I've got a card."

Naturally, Taylor says, he produced his card — which contains his photograph. He says one of the raiding officers, a guy in a ski mask, told him, "I don't know even know if you're supposed to have this card."

The officer, Taylor says, referred to the lawsuit filed in federal court against the state's medical-marijuana law six weeks ago by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and state Attorney General Tom Horne.

For all their intense efforts, the raiding party found about two ounces of pot in Taylor's closet, "a small chunk of hashish," and some pipes. Taylor readily admitted the stuff was his. After all, it weighed less than the statutory limit for cardholders.

Taylor's card, one of thousands issued by the state Department of Health Services since April 14, was valid on the day of the raid. In the search warrant signed by the JP, Detective Avery lists the training he's undergone as a narcotics officer — noticeably missing is any training on the new medical-marijuana law. Police later called the DHS — not a prosecutor's office — and asked an employee how the suspect could have legally obtained the marijuana. At least, that's what Avery's report states. A DHS official could not confirm this part of the story.

Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dorn refused repeated requests for an interview. He's made his spokesman, Balafas, do all the talking. And judging from what Balafas says, Dorn and his department either are confused about what the law says.

Or the Gilbert PD has gone rogue.

Proposition 203 was approved by Arizona voters in November and is now the law of the land. Yet for the second time since 1996, attempts to legalize medical marijuana by the voters of Arizona are getting thwarted.

Recent decisions by Governor Brewer and Attorney General Horne have effectively ended what had been, until May, a peaceful rollout of a law passed by the initiative process.

Applications for dispensaries, the marijuana stores where patients legally would buy their "medicine," were supposed to have begun being taken by the Department of Health Services on June 1. The law allows 124 dispensaries statewide, a figure based on a percentage of the state's pharmacies. As New Times explored in a February 3 article about the then-budding dispensary business ("Pot of Gold"), investors, entrepreneurs, and a wide range of professional-service providers were lining up for a chance to be on the ground floor of a hoped-for billion-dollar industry. It appeared that nearly every one of the 124 geographically dispersed slots offered by the DHS would be home to a dispensary.

Given that many cities across the Valley have approved zoning applications for some of these planned businesses in the past few weeks, it's possible that some of the stores would have been opened by now. Since the bulk of the dispensaries' products would have been grown in the state by licensed cultivators (the exception being that qualified patients could legally donate weed at no charge to the dispensaries), DHS officials had predicted that the stores would be open by this fall.

A slim majority — but still a majority — of Arizona voters said "yes" in November's election to the idea of medicinal marijuana and pot stores for patients.

But because Brewer and Horne say "no," the stores are now on hold — indefinitely. On May 27, the two Republican leaders filed suit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix as plaintiffs against the new statute, asking for a declaratory judgment on whether it is legal under federal law.

They say they're worried about the potential liability to state employees who would administer the program and process dispensary licenses.

They claim that because of this alleged risk, a "time-out" is needed for the industry, which would bring thousands of new jobs to economically depressed Arizona. Just days before excited entrepreneurs were to begin submitting their dispensary applications, Brewer ordered the DHS to reject applications for dispensaries.

The farcical element here is that the governor and state attorney general know full well that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act authorizes activity that is now illegal under federal law. Federal judges are unlikely to say otherwise, if they say anything at all.

Brewer and Horne are siding against Arizona voters, citing federal law enforcement's warning signals to upstart states with medical-marijuana laws.

Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized the medical use of marijuana. In more than half of these states, including in Arizona, voters approved medical marijuana directly at the ballot box.

But as commercial marijuana operations have grown in accordance with state laws, the Justice Department has pushed back. Starting in February, U.S. Attorneys in these states began sending threat-letters to state officials. President Barack Obama's administration warned that nearly anyone involved with distributing, selling, or growing marijuana faces potential prosecution and/or asset forfeiture, despite state laws to the contrary.

With another 10 states considering medical marijuana, the nation's medical-pot industry has become a states' rights issue.

Though they are rejecting the "will of the people" when it comes to medical marijuana, Brewer and Horne firmly are behind voters' wishes when it suits their political needs. For example, they are spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on the legal defense of voter-approved anti-illegal-immigrant legislation such as Senate Bill 1070 and Proposition 200, which requires (among other things) proof of citizenship before individuals can register to vote. (Horne argued personally in favor of Prop 200 before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month.)

Brewer and Horne aren't spending a dime to defend the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, of course. Staunch conservatives, they made their ill feelings toward the law apparent before voters approved it. Indeed, they're spending public money to fight what state voters want.

Brewer, through her spokesman, claims she first considered the idea of the lawsuit and the rejection of dispensary applications following a May 2 warning letter to the DHS by Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke.

But as this article will detail, the governor's staff and AG Horne considered the actions well before then. And they took their cues, in part, from Keep AZ Drug Free — the political group that campaigned unsuccessfully against the law last year.

State residents who have lived here for a while may be experiencing déjà vu watching their leaders go against what voters have approved. In 1996, voters passed the state's first medical-marijuana law by a 2-1 margin. Lawmakers gutted the law by passing legislation that put its provisions on hold. Voters struck back two years later by passing the law again at roughly the same margin, but that law also ran into difficulties. To keep the state Legislature from tinkering with any part of a legally approved initiative, voters then approved the Voter Protection Act.

This forced anti-marijuana crusaders to take a different tack this time — the governor and AG's federal lawsuit.

Still, all of the state's Marijuana Act hasn't been canceled or put on hold by the top state officials' actions. Unlike the 1996 and 1998 pot laws, this one has teeth.

Under the older laws, a doctor had to prescribe marijuana. But the federal prescription program is overseen by the DEA, which threatened to pull drug-prescribing powers from any doctor who dared authorize pot for a patient.

The new law relies on a more casual recommendation from doctors instead of prescriptions. More importantly, the Arizona law has a self-enacting clause.

Had Brewer ordered the DHS to stop taking applications for patients, the clause would have been triggered. This would have meant that anyone eligible to obtain a doctor's recommendation for marijuana could grow and possess it legally.

This is why the DHS has continued to accept and process about 100 new applications a day for patient-registration cards. Ninety-eight percent are getting approved.

The latest DHS stats show that since the first applications rolled in April 14, more than 6,550 qualified patients have been allowed to legally possess marijuana under state law, with 75 percent legally allowed to grow up to 12 plants for their own use. Another 186 registered "caregivers" can grow up to 12 plants each, for as many as five patients each.

With the absence of dispensaries, "compassion" clubs — which allow patients and caregivers to share marijuana with other patients — have opened across the Valley. For example, the 2811 Club LLC, run by industry marketer Allan Sobol, collects $75 in "dues" from member-patients each time they show up and openly touts its for-profit nature. Patients receive up to an eighth of an ounce of "high-grade" marijuana for "free" as a membership benefit.

While the top-down, highly bureaucratic system mandated by the new law remains stalled, Brewer and Horne's actions mean that a medical-marijuana culture is rising from the ground up in Arizona.

Without question, the feds have issued ominous statements about pot businesses in recent months.

The stance of the Justice Department has surprised some supporters of President Obama, who stated before and after his 2008 election that he favored marijuana decriminalization.

In 2008, Obama called it a waste of resources to "have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical-marijuana users." And after he became president, his administration put that philosophy into action with the groundbreaking October 2009 Ogden Memo, which stated that the feds would have a hands-off approach to medical-marijuana programs that comply with state laws. The memo kicked such programs into high gear, especially in California and Colorado. The two states, where growers and distributors already were serving thousands of state-authorized qualified pot patients in a relatively low-key way, suddenly exploded with highly visible dispensaries.

With the increase in plans for super-size commercial growing and distribution enterprises, Obama's Justice Department appears to be re-thinking the situation.

Federal officials have issued a new round of warnings. The first was in California, arguably the most pro-pot state (considering it nearly legalized marijuana by popular vote in 2010).

The Oakland City Council, in the spirit of California's freely running medical-marijuana industry, decided in January to move forward with licenses for pot-cultivation facilities of up to 50,000 square feet. Nothing that big had been tried openly before, and it's unclear whether the plan was in accordance with California law. Regardless, the city's leaders figured it was a great way to bring in millions of tax dollars during bad economic times.

In a letter dated February 1 and made public a few days later, Northern California U.S Attorney Melinda Haag advised Oakland that such facilities could run afoul of federal law officers, who would "vigorously" go after people who grew and sold pot, "even if such activities are permitted under state law."

Even those indirectly involved could be in trouble, she warned: "Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law."

The Haag letter kicked off a series of several similar letters from U.S. Attorneys in the following weeks. One, sent by Washington state's U.S. Attorney on April 14, mentioned specifically that state workers who participated in a licensing scheme could be held accountable. Because of that, on April 30, Washington Governor Christy Gregoire vetoed part of a new medical-pot law that authorized dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

Arizona U.S. Attorney Burke's May 2 letter to the DHS said nothing about state workers, but it threatened that the feds might go after "large" pot-growing facilities. He didn't define what "large" meant.

Coming less than a month before the DHS' planned licensing of pot-growing operations, on which the state law had placed no size limits, the letter warned that complying with the state statute gave no one "safe harbor." Besides the pot-growing and distribution businesses, property owners who leased space to the businesses could be subject to prosecution or asset seizure based on federal laws, Burke stated.

Even so, many people are willing to take the risk, noting that the feds have not tried to close down the hundreds of medical-marijuana businesses supplying patients nationwide. For instance, the DEA made well-publicized raids of two West Hollywood, California, dispensaries in March, but two other popular shops in the same area were untouched and remain open. So far, raids by federal officials have targeted only businesses that aren't complying with state laws.

The letters from the U.S. Attorneys to their states make clear that the Justice Department will not target qualified marijuana patients. But, paradoxically, businesses supplying these card-holding patients have been threatened with prosecution.

The Obama administration is waffling, but Brewer and Horne certainly aren't.

Despite the lack of federal prosecutions around the country (particularly in neighboring California, which has a far more liberal law) and the fact that Burke has suggested his office has no interest in arresting state workers who process the new Arizona statute, the GOP duo claim in their suit that the law must be held up to protect state workers.

After Brewer stated publicly that Burke's letter prompted her to file the suit out of concern for state employees, the U.S. Attorney shot back to local independent reporter Howie Fischer: "It's fair to read into my letter what I included and what I didn't. And if I didn't include state employees, I think that's telling in itself."

Further, Burke told the Arizona Republic after Brewer's announcement that though he had to point out that no one was immune from federal law, he would not direct federal law enforcement to target "people who were implementing or were in compliance with state law."

Between his written and verbal statements, Arizona's U.S. Attorney suggests that he supports state voters in a way that Brewer and Horne clearly do not.

Carolyn Short's a sharp-minded lawyer who's spent much of her life as a stay-at-home mom. She's highly motivated and has lots of time on her hands. She's been a volunteer for anti-drug groups for years and sees the passage of Prop 203 as a disaster.

Like many marijuana prohibitionists, Short plays fast and loose with the facts.

She's publicly claimed that her stepdaughter is a meth user whose drug addiction began with marijuana, yet the Christian conservative admitted to New Times before the election that she keeps alcohol in her fridge and claims she doesn't know whether her stepdaughter tried booze before pot.

A few days after Brewer and Horne put the kibosh on Arizona's dispensary system, New Times called the Reefer Madness-style propagandist on the suspicion that she'd had something to do with it. This prompted Short to release an eyebrow-raising letter that she'd sent on February 16 to DHS Director Will Humble:

"On January 10, 2011, [former Arizona U.S. Attorney] Paul Charlton and I met with Attorney General Horne to discuss our conclusion that implementation of Prop 203 would subject you and other ADHS employees to federal prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act ('CSA').

"AG Horne suggested that he could file a declaratory judgment action, asking a court to determine whether the implementation of Arizona's law would subject you and other ADHS employees to the risk of federal prosecution under the CSA."

Short's letter also stated that, two weeks after the January meeting, Horne told her "he would not file a declaratory judgment action because his 'client, Will Humble' did not want him to."

Brewer refuses to talk to New Times about this development or about other aspects of the medical-marijuana law, but her spokesman, Matt Benson, says the governor never has met Short and isn't working with her to defeat the voter-approved initiative. Benson says Brewer didn't know about Horne's meeting with Short, the discussion about a lawsuit, or Horne's subsequent discussion with Humble on the issue.

Benson claims "it's neither here nor there" that Horne and Short discussed the lawsuit in January — or that Humble opposed it. Brewer's decision to allow the program to roll out unhindered until Burke's letter proves there was no pre-planned scheme, he argues.

Yet the state's keeping secrets.

Neither Horne nor Humble will comment on the details of their talks about filing the lawsuit and halting the dispensary process. Lawyers with the Attorney General's Office penned a memo that reportedly describes the legal theories behind these decisions, but the governor won't release it publicly.

Benson claims Brewer wants to maintain her attorney-client privilege with Horne's office by not releasing the letter.

For her part, Short remains candid about her group's goal to sink the new law through legal means.

"We did not stop working after the law passed," she says.

Neither did her allies Brewer and Horne.

Arizona's never seen a business quite like the Arizona Compassion Club. The club operates out of offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa — and representatives say more locations are coming soon. In the suite at 2701 East Thomas Road, the strong smell of marijuana greets visitors.

This is just one of the front lines in Brewer and Horne's war. As it's turning out, the state leaders' actions have had an unintended consequence: They've given a boost to caregiver cooperatives and patient clubs, seemingly proving that the opposition can't really fence in Arizona's marijuana law.

The compassion club on Thomas Road isn't fancy. It's a low-budget, but professional-looking, place where qualified Arizona patients can obtain pot. Inside the small waiting area are a few chairs and a flat-screen TV showing medical-pot-themed videos. A glass panel, covered with posters listing strains of marijuana and what ailments each strain may be best for treating, separates another room that's furnished minimally with two folding tables. In this room, staff members meet with patients to discuss the club's rules and to distribute marijuana.

The club helps a patient-advocacy group, the Arizona Cannabis Society, distribute "free" marijuana to patients, as state law apparently allows. Available medicine includes ready-to-smoke buds, marijuana-infused foods, and tinctures made from pot plants. Unlike at dispensaries in other states, marijuana isn't displayed on shelves.

Nick Monte introduces himself as one of the main staff members at Arizona Compassion Club. He and another club member, Bill Hayes of the Cannabis Society, explain how the club has managed to stay open since April without police interference: It all comes down to ARS 36-2811, a codified portion of the Marijuana Act that prohibits legal prosecution or any penalties for possession and transfer of less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana between caregivers or qualified patients. Under the provision, nothing of value can be transferred in exchange for marijuana.

Members pay a small fee when they join, then make donations that entitle them to receive marijuana from the club. The concept may appear to be a thinly disguised sales scheme, in that patients often leave the club offices with pot and less money. However, operators are confident that they're operating within the legal boundaries of the new law.

"Someone [had] to step up to the plate," Monte says. "There are plenty of patients out there in need."

Monte and other staff members won't allow anyone without a state registration card to join the club; they also scrutinize every membership card with a black light that makes a hidden hologram glow. Hayes says he advised the club to refuse any patient who didn't appear "100 percent legitimate."

Hayes says, "We work other jobs — we're volunteers [at the club]."

Staff members wear their own state registration cards on lanyards around their necks, in part as protection in case police barge in. This hasn't happened yet. Uniformed cops have been in the Thomas Road suite for alarm calls and to see what was going on, Monte says, but they have taken no action toward shutting down the suite.

The club claims about 700 members who have maladies ranging from cancer to the most common qualifying ailment, "chronic and severe pain." Pot-friendly doctors refer patients to the club, and, conveniently, one doctor-recommendation business is in an adjoining suite. Monte says the club also receives referrals from drug-rehabilitation centers, whose clinicians see legal pot as a way to wean addicts off heroin and other hard drugs.

Without the club, its member patients would have a harder time getting their marijuana. Now, instead of fueling the black market or Mexican drug cartels, they're obtaining marijuana that probably was grown locally. Apparently, some members of the pot club and affiliated advocacy group started growing marijuana after the law passed but before state registration cards became available in April. It's questionable whether that early start was legal under the law, but they believe they have legal cover because Brewer signed the Marijuana Act in late November.

Sobol, who opened a similar club on July 4, says he "doesn't need to know" where a separate association that fills his club members' needs gets its marijuana. But he notes that a caregiver who also is a card-carrying patient can grow up to 72 plants legally and that might create a lot of "excess" medicine that can then be legally donated to other patients.

However it arrived, the marijuana is available, and legal patients are helping themselves to it with or without state-approved dispensaries. Compassion clubs and caregiver cooperatives, managed by advocates willing to deal with the risks of federal prosecution, appear to be the wave of the future.

When New Times asked the Phoenix Police Department its thoughts on the new clubs, spokesman Steve Martos said the PPD has no official opinion but is checking into the Phoenix operations.

Presumably, this means that the department is sending in undercover cops to see whether the clubs are doing something illegal.

"I'm not worried," Monte says. "We're not doing anything wrong. We're just trying to provide a service to patients."

As of press time for this article, the Arizona Compassion Club's three locations and Sobol's club still were open.

At the local level, it remains to be seen how prosecutors will react to the new law.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery opposed Prop 203 strongly during the initiative's campaign. Jerry Cobb, Montgomery's spokesman, says the office has handled only a couple of simple cases involving medical-marijuana patients.

In one, a man who'd been busted for possession in 2009 and never showed up for court was "picked up," he says. This time, the man had a state-issued registration card. But the law doesn't "grandfather in" such people, Cobb says, so it didn't protect him.

Another case involved a man who was arrested and claimed he was an approved patient but didn't have the card on him. "When he presented the card, the case was dismissed," Cobb says.

Montgomery hasn't yet seen three possession cases involving medical-marijuana patients stemming from Gilbert Police Department actions in June, including the one targeting Ross Taylor.

The Gilbert PD hadn't submitted the cases for potential prosecution as of press time but says it intends to do so.

Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dorn and some of his officers apparently hold unsupported beliefs about the new marijuana law, casting doubt on the appropriateness of their actions in two of the three cases.

During the raid on Taylor's home, Gilbert officers interrogated Taylor about where he obtained his pot. Bill Balafas, Dorn's spokesman, admits that the department's stance is that if Taylor obtained pot from any source other than a marijuana dispensary or by growing it himself, he can't legally possess it.

But this is not true. The law states clearly in a stand-alone statute that patients legally can possess up to the 2.5 ounces. Nothing about the source is mentioned.

Also, the police report says Taylor told officers (and he also told New Times) that he'd gotten the pot from a friend in Prescott. Even on the "FAQ" section of the DHS' website, the state says patients can legally obtain marijuana from other patients. The police report on Taylor's case states that officers contacted the DHS to ask how individuals could legally obtain and possess marijuana. The cops were told, according to the report, that the "only options" are for patients to grow it themselves or have it grown by designated caregivers.

DHS officials say they don't know who among their staff may have talked to the Gilbert PD.

About midnight on June 20, a Gilbert police officer pulled over a 22-year-old man who allegedly had failed to come to a complete stop as he pulled out of a Filiberto's parking lot. When he walked up to the car, the officer claimed he smelled "an overwhelming odor of fresh marijuana" in the car, a police report states.

The driver, who talked to New Times on the condition that his name not be published, showed the officer four small baggies of marijuana and his patient-registration card. The pot weighed only about a half-ounce, but the officer questioned the man about where he'd gotten it. A friend gave it to him, the driver said.

The cop told him that unless he grew it himself, he couldn't legally possess it, despite his card, the driver tells New Times. And the motorist had another problem.

Because of his bloodshot eyes, leg tremors, and "greenish tint" on his tongue, the officer wrote that he suspected the driver was under the influence. The suspect claimed he'd last used marijuana a couple of days earlier, then changed his story and said it had been that morning. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Balafas, a trained drug-recognition expert, says marijuana can affect drivers up to 12 or even 24 hours after its use. Though that claim sounds dubious, Gilbert town prosecutor Lynn Arouh says convictions in marijuana DUI cases can be easy to win because a state law prohibits driving with any trace of marijuana in the bloodstream. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act shields patients from this strict standard — but not when the state can prove that the driver was impaired at the time of the traffic stop.

As for the question of how the pot was obtained: It's irrelevant to many Valley police agencies.

Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe don't even take a report in such cases, as long as the qualified patient possesses less than the 2.5-ounce maximum. Even having the card isn't a requirement: All that's needed is the 20-digit registration number that police verify with the DHS.

"We are not going to be booking" cardholders who possess less than the limit, says PPD Sergeant Steve Martos. "That would be in direct violation of the law."

For Gilbert resident Ross Taylor, the hashish presents more possible trouble. The new Marijuana Act doesn't specifically reference a separate statute in Arizona law that classifies hash as a narcotic, even though it's made from pot plants without the addition of any other drugs.

Prosecuting cardholding patients for a small amount of hash would seem to fly against the spirit of the law. It'll be interesting to see how Montgomery handles this one. If hash possession remains a felony, the makers of marijuana edibles will see their style cramped a bit, since making hash often is the first step in producing certain pot-infused food items, such as cookies and ice cream.

Gilbert police might see better prosecutorial results stemming from another raid in late June involving an unlicensed business called the Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group.

The business' owner, Garry Ferguson, is a medical-marijuana patient who has suffered from pain, a severe limp, and mobility problems since a 2003 motorcycle collision. Unemployed, Ferguson came to Tempe from a family homestead in Sanders a few weeks ago after realizing that his interest in the medical-marijuana cause and making money might be brought together because of the new law.

Ferguson admits that he sold marijuana openly from a Tempe office at 2011 East Fifth Street to hundreds of card-carrying patients, many of whom were referred by doctors' offices. But he may have misapplied the law. Unlike those of the compassion clubs, Ferguson says, his actions were covered under a different part of the medical-marijuana law that mentions how cardholders are prohibited from selling pot to anyone who doesn't have a card. This means cardholders can sell to other cardholders, he says. Lawyers contacted by New Times aren't so sure, and an answer won't be available until — or if — a prosecutor tries a case testing the principle.

Whether the Tempe Police Department knew about the operation is unclear, but Gilbert police ended up receiving a tip about Ferguson's place. On June 16, a report states, Gilbert Officer Josh Wybron entered the business dressed in street clothes and saw what looked like illegal drug transactions, five marijuana plants growing in pots, people freely smoking marijuana, and various jars of pot and "eatables" displayed openly in the office.

Wybron signaled other officers. Gilbert cops detained five people and seized the suspected contraband. But in a nod to the confusion Gilbert officers apparently feel about the new law, no one was taken to jail.

Gilbert hasn't yet submitted charges to prosecutors. Ferguson says he and everyone else in the office at that time are registered patients.

The day after the raid, New Times interviewed a defiant Ferguson, who said he told the officers, "I'm going to continue doing tomorrow what I'm doing today."

True to his word, he showed New Times several pot plants he'd brought into the office. A couple of "customers" came in and apparently obtained their marijuana. Ferguson says he's still in business but now operates more along the "donation" lines of the compassion clubs.

But he gripes that hundreds of patients he was serving stopped coming after the raid, and only a few diehards remain. "I'll be out of here in a few days," he says.

Perhaps his patients defected to the more cautious and law-abiding compassion clubs that he's trying to mimic.

Two days before the July 4 holiday weekend, the Justice Department dropped the Big One:

Following the letters sent by the U.S. Attorneys to their pro-pot states, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole on June 28 issued an awaited "clarification" to the 2009 Ogden Memo.

Like the preceding letters, the clarification stops well short of a heavy-handed slap-down of the states' programs. Cole's letter to the U.S. Attorneys in all 50 states reiterates the Obama Administration's concept of not targeting patients and small-time caregivers. But it emphasizes a potential threat to businesses that would supply the patients.

The Controlled Substances Act, Cole notes, allows for wide-ranging enforcement that includes targeting "proceeds" of marijuana businesses. People who engage in such businesses, he writes, face "potential prosecution" subject to the discretion of each U.S. Attorney.

Governor Brewer quickly announced that the Cole letter proves she took "the proper course of action" in halting the dispensary industry and filing the lawsuit. But it appears she and Horne still are exaggerating the threat as political cover for their voter-violating actions.

In a news release about the Cole letter, Horne states that the feds "will" prosecute people who facilitate commercial marijuana operations. In fact, Cole's letter states that he's giving "guidance" to U.S. Attorneys, who have "broad discretion" on how to handle enforcement.

In other words, Arizona could be handling this situation differently: State leaders could implement the law as voters intended, then fight for the rights of voters if and when the feds did something.

Industry experts and hopeful dispensary owners in Arizona tell New Times that Brewer's actions have scared off some dispensary investors. Between Brewer and the feds, more delays in the development of a medical-marijuana industry in Arizona are a given, says Vincent Palazzotto, executive director of the national Medical Marijuana Patient Association.

But the California resident says he sees "no one" closing up shop in California because of the Cole letter, which should be a lesson in Arizona.

"They'll be willing to take this the whole way," Palazzotto says of members of the California medical-pot industry.

Patients and their advocates have struck back against anti-medical-marijuana forces in Arizona, filing two lawsuits in Maricopa County Superior Court that aim to stop Brewer and Horne's interference. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Association (made up of the same people as the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, which put Prop 203 on the ballot) and other advocates argued a motion in federal court recently that Brewer's lawsuit should be dismissed because of "lack of jurisdiction or . . . failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted."

The advocates are represented, in part, by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union.

As the legal battle shapes up, Carolyn Short's anti-drug group is plotting to put a repeal of the law before voters in the 2012 election.

All of which is to say that the fight over medical marijuana is far from over.

Yet as of July, despite Brewer's actions, most police agencies are following the rules outlined in the new law.

And marijuana cultivation, patient-to-patient "gifts," and patient cooperatives are becoming more common.

For the growing number of medical-marijuana users, the new state statute is working as voters intended.

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With medical marijuana dispensaries on hold until lawmakers can decide if they’re in violation of federal law, pot clubs have been popping up around Arizona, bringing together card-carrying medical marijuana patients to share private supplies of marijuana. Now, these clubs are coming under legal scrutiny.


Now the mmj issue was thrown in my face since the park owner of rancho reata senior mobile home park has posted a notice at the park that all mmj users will be evicted since we agreed to a crime free zone when we moved in and since we smoke even with my card and medical issues...we are involved in a criminal enterprise by using this voter approved medicine so now the want to charge a huge deposit to move it (not to mention cost of moving it....) you know that leaves it wide open to put us all out on the streets and are doing as we speak...only for not wanting to feel sick and steal our mobiles because we obeyed the law and got a now I've lost my house, job, possesions, and moved to az... and then due to health and economy......filed bankruptcy .....scrape together money for a mobile......and now some park owner is taking it because I complied with the law did the right thing and will soon be living in my car....due to this mmj issue and "IM PISSED" IS THIS WHAT OUR COUNTRY BECOME...THE LEFT SAYS WATCH OUT WHILE THE RIGHT ROBS US BLIND AND THEN THEY TAKE TURNS.....WHAT DO YOU WANT..... MY LIFE...I'M DYING AS FAST AS I CANGOD FORBID I USE SOMETHING TO MAKE ..IT TOLERABLE.......




When is this stupid dung ever going to stop. The police attacking the sick and dying? Arizona's bitch governor and her @ss hole friend Horne can go to hell........................


These fools have thier brains upside down..they should go after all these shops selling the so called synthetic marijuana !!IIts getting out of hand, i recall a friend working in such a store telling me thay sell around seven hundred capsules or whatever it is (spice) in a week!!.guys go stop the artificial crap rather than harrasing people who want to get it the legit way for legit reasons.....


I'm a card holder, I suffer from Fibromyalgia and extreme anxiety disorder, this past weekend one of Sheriff Joe's boys pulled me and my boyfriend over because our truck was smoking. He claimed he smelled marijuana, and told us to get out the car. I was not driving. I showed him my card and the little bud and pipe I had on me. He kept us there for an hour while he argued on his phone with someone. When he came back he was pissed because someone at the County Attorney's office had told him he could not arrest me for possesion. He then ranted at us for another 15 minutes that it's still illegal for me to possess it, it's not, because he said,"This isn't a law because of the block that our fine Governor has filed," and that I was lucky he wasn't arresting me, which he couldn't. He then left taking with him my bud and pipe and my boyfriends pocket knife. I was left with no proof of this stop and when I called they said they had no record of the stop. Ignoranced is not only rampant in our police departments but it is encouraged.


Brewer get up and smell the flowers, it might help your condition!!!!!!!


so are people really free in this piece of shit country???jesus fuckin christ the u.s. gov't loves to fuck with everyone and thanks to them this country will never recover!!!!!!


The reactionary Conservative Clowns in this story are fighting a law their constituents voted FOR, and subsequently, IN THE MAJORITY, support...So much for doing things legally, on the up and up...

Chance Steven Joseph Morales
Chance Steven Joseph Morales

what a bunch of idiots cops in riot gear and ski masks and guns for one ounce of gilbert police get a life. this is ridiculous...i would love for other police officers to do the same to those gilbert cops for any prescription drugs they might be allowed to have. it makes me depressed to be an american when i hear things like this and wonder how free this country really is. also i would like all police officers to ask them selves if they are peace keepers or law enforcements agents.


TOO many guns and badges and the authority to use both in this state. Most of the guns and badges in this state are pathetic morons, who think they are the law, instead of enforcing the law. Sue the shit out of them. peace


The dispensary model is simply wrong. It creates middle man legal drug dealers who are legitimized because they got leases, paid fees and hired lawyers. Oh- like Wall Street!

Instead, lets just allow patients grow their own. This takes drug dealers out of the discussion.

Display Name
Display Name

Dennis Burke will not be able to dodge the ATF gun scandal much longer. There will be a vacancy soon at the Phonix USA office.Jan Brewer will read this story eating her corn flakes soaked in McCormicks Scotch, and she will dig her heels in for another expensive tax funded fight...and just shrug her shoulders when she loses and the 1 million dollar tab is paid by all of us.

Anthony Mark Previte
Anthony Mark Previte

I canceled Direct TV as well, but for unrelated reasons... mostly due to incompetence. Speaking of which... since the government can't get it's act together one-way or another... Federal OR State.... Everybody get their card's, get some seed's and grow you're own and let the government do what it does so well... Spin in endless circles. A simple effective plan if you ask me!


I for one am shocked that the spineless big talk and not a protest scheduled. I've not heard of one. In the eyes of the radical right your are a bunch of loser stoners that can't organize. Or can't find your way out through the smoke. Who will inspire the almost a million voters that have once again been quietly been subverted. I'll take some time out of my day and make a sign. Send me a tweet @monte bates

Arizona Dispense
Arizona Dispense

A movement does not live in the Arizona Revised Statutes, but laws do. Our state defines medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites but the Carolyn Short cartel is holding up the implementation. Over 841,000 Arizonans voted for the proposition. For those who do not believe in democracies, there are other countries besides America to live in.


Who cares if the opposition meet with Horne or anyone else for that matter! Isn't that what you're suppose to do when you advocate for an issue? You meet with community members, elected officials, and anyone else that'll listen. If this was remotely an issue we need to turn to Humble which paid a special favor to his law group buddies and gave the pro-drug people a special "partnership breakfast meeting." Or when Mr. Humble went on MPR with Andrew Meyer; yet he should remain neutral...hummm! If anything we should be looking at Humble and pro-drug lobby working together...Mr. Stern, why was that never mentioned? This article seems to be quite one sided!


I think its pretty silly to make this out like its a huge violation of civil rights. Granted there are some really sick patients out there who could benefit from MMJ, a majority would be normal people with no ailments going to the many mills that certify for a few hundred bucks. If you want legalization just be upfront, theres no need to use terminally ill people to get your agenda across. Right now its really all about making a quick buck. Allan Sobol's "club" offers 8ths for $75, and you're telling me its about compassion? Scrap the law and push for full legalization without dragging cancer patients through the mud.


So... the state's already made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling these cards that are now worthless? Then they'll be giving refunds, right? Oh, of course not. Obama's flip flopping is, unfortunately, predictable.

Can who ever caters their next tax-payer funded dinner do me a huge favor? Slip them some pot brownies or hash tartar so they can see they too were victims of the propaganda machine (and hopefully chill the hell out just a bit) and we can all move on. Prohibition failed miserably, but obviously the government was a little smarter then as it didnt last quite as long.

Narcotics raid . . . what is this, the 1930s?


Screw the direct tv guy and screw the officer that said "i don't even know if you are supposed to have this card", no ish that is between the doctor and the patient, swat isn't who decides who gets a card!


So funny I haven't paid direct TV last 2 months fuk them snitches

Ceo Azcs
Ceo Azcs

The Compassion Clubs and Co-op's are here folks and we aren't going anywhere!With groups like our educating those in the industry as well as offering free "rights assertion" classes for the public we hope to take this fight to their doorstep!! We had tried to supply NT with photo's of local patient and caregiver grow op's but the media has everyone scared again. Enough is enough. The more transparent we are and the more we educate each other, the faster this failed "drug war" will end! So in light of Ray's article we have moved our GRAND OPENING at Alma School and the 202 loop to this Monday coming up, the 18th. Arizona Cannabis Society will be giving out truly FREE marijuana to the first 100 prop-203 card holders that come in the club to sign up.

It's time we show Arizona just what "Compassion" is all about. We have assisted other groups in starting their own Compassion Clubs, people like Monte and Ferguson have all consulted with AZCS as did Al Sobol just before the opening of the 2811 Club. They all had great ideas but they just needed a little guidance to stay ARS 28.1 compliant and all of them will now do well with their business models. However, this Monday we will be opening our Compassion Center and it is like nothing you have seen so far Arizona. From pre-rolled cones to pre-rooted clones, medication to education, paraphernalia from local glass blowers to edible mmj treats from culinary arts professionals across the valley, we have everything you need to medicate safely and responsibly Arizona!! Imitation is often referred to as the "highest form of flattery", come see why we are often imitated but will never be duplicated!!Arizona Cannabis Society, Arizona's premier medical marijuana advocacy and mmj services center is about to show AZ how its done!!


Seems as though Carolyn Short and her anti-pot crew could be civilly sued for "causing needless ongoing pain and suffering" or legal terminology similar to those medical marijuana patients who paid for their registration and card, but are unable to acquire medical pot because of the interference of Short and her fundamentalist crew in the operation of currently legal state government processes. A thousand or so claims for damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars won by the plaintiffs would probably set her back a bit. Ms. Short seems quite willing to provide the New Times with documentary evidence of that interference. I am not an attorney, but it seems to me that patients could and should use tort law against these people who would nullify the will of voters!


Ray, Hash is legal - as are the edibles.

Just check ARS 36-2801

15. "Usable marijuana" means the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks and roots of the plant and does not include the weight of any non-marijuana ingredients combined with marijuana and prepared for consumption as food or drink."

Gray Race
Gray Race

It's never a surprise to me that Gilbert PD would raid medical marijuana patient home because they never have anything else better to do. They swarm like flies all over the city pulling people over for stupid shit like not using the 2 second rule at a complete stop, and love giving out tickets. Everybody I know get along with Mesa, Chandler, and even Tempe PD but can't stand Gilbert PD because of bullshit like this raid. Why do you think there is a Facebook page of I hate Gilbert Cops and its because of this.


Fuck Brewer and Horne, who elected these assholes any way...oh that's, the dumb ass voters of Arizona where your votes means absolutely nothing unless they want it to.


I'd say Carolyn Short's daughter is on meth because Carolyn Short is her mother and she's rebelling the fact that her mother is a control freak and an ass hole.


Agreed. This actually makes it a lot easier. If all registered patients were to grow there own pot, then we can actually have a system where profit is not being made. We grow our own since we are allowed to, we then trade it with other patients other strains of pot, goods or services and not cash leaving the dispenaries and state out of the picture. At the same time our paranoid legislature doesn't have to worry about state workers getting arrested. I don't think it's illegal to barter in this state, and the feds aren't going after the patients, only large scale growers and distributors. By doing this problem would be solved. Of course the incident in Gilbert may lead us to think otherwise. We have to understand that the state legislator has no interests in appeasing the voters of this state. Bill Montgomery was openly calling Medical Marijuana patients a bunch of stoners in the AZ republic ( todays letter to the editor), showing his true ignorance and bias in this bill to begin with. I have lived in Texas, and AZ is a lot more backwards than Texas ever was.


I've been SCREAMING this at the New Times for months and they just want to critisize the Gov and the AG. That dispensary part of the law was bad and put in just to satisfy the phamaceutical drug industry (dispensaries might become pharmacies in the future).

Hemp/Cannabis/Sativa is a weed. It is easy to grow. Granted more exotic strains are complicated, but for just plain every day medicine - it's a weed - it grow like a weed. It requires very little knowledge or effort to grow and cultivate. Stop trying to make people rich


Apparently you posted on the wrong thread. Wow. So off topic. And, you aren't the boss of me. I'll get my TV from whoever I choose. Get a life. Recall Jan Brewer. Friggin beotch.

rick r
rick r

Except the fact that we were able to get it legalized. yeah good one buddy.

Arizona Dispense
Arizona Dispense

We sponsored that breakfast. It was about the law being implemented and the rules that the Arizona DHS developed for the dispensary application process. Stop drug smugglers from importing marijuana and cocaine across the border, shut down meth labs, impede the resale market of prescription drugs and the recreational use of anxiety meds among our populace. We follow the law. Those impeding medical marijuana are in the way of state law. So really?


Your side is trying to break the law and deserve to be in jail .Thwarting the will of the voters for third time since 96.Federal courts have already ruled in favor of states right to enact own drug laws vs Fed. controlled substance act . This includes all medical marijuana laws.With supreme court refusing to hear. END OF STORY.... SAN DIEGO CO. VS CALIF.


If you don't think that the war on drugs isn't a war on ALL citizens civil liberties then you need to wake up and start paying attention. If adult citizens of this country do not have the right to decide what substances they ingest in their body in the privacy of their homes then what rights do they really have?


Great idea


I’ve pointed out this before as well. "Usable marijuana" means the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof Or 36-2811 sec D, 1,2,3 No person may be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty… 2-Being in the presence or vicinity of the medical use of marijuana as authorized under this chapter. 3-Assisting a registered qualifying patient with administering marijuana as authorized by this chapter. (Doesn’t state Caregiver either)

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis reversed an Arkansas federal judge's ruling..."Thus, the primary question ... is whether Arkansas law permits a police officer to arrest a person for refusing to identify himself when he is not suspected of other criminal activity and his identification is not needed to protect officer safety or to resolve whatever reasonable suspicions prompted the officer to initiate an ongoing traffic stop. We conclude it does not," the court said.The court also said the state trooper did not have qualified immunity from the lawsuit under state statute.Qualified immunity protects public officials "from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have," the court said, adding that the trooper "acted contrary to the plain meaning" of the state statute.This is something I found about police that take their power too far and violate the law. No immunity….


Is it illegal to not stop at a private driveway when entering onto a city street? I didn’t think cities could enforce a stop sign- that was not city planned and approved or on private property.

J Curwen
J Curwen

If I were her kid I'd be on heroin.


Dispensaries ARE needed by patients who are trying the Medicinal Marahuana for the first time. It is also true enough a "weed" but a LOT of the people who need it are not ABLE to grow it themselves. Growing requires more than just tossing some seeds in the ground and waiting, you are talking about "Medicinal Product" NOT something that you know nothing about its ability to help the patient. ExpertShot, I hope you enjoy, wait, continue to enjoy good health but there ARE those of us out here that aren't so lucky. Just my 2 cents worth!


Grinnin, did you READ this article??? It was a DIRECTV installer who reported the pot to police that got them the warrant and started this whole thing off. I can't believe someone actually liked your comment. What a clown.


I really doubt that all the greens going around the clubs right now were grown here. You can throw around how your "movement" is combating the cartels, but at the end of the day you will get greens in wholesale from whatever seller is fully stocked. Stop making this about some just cause.


Yes, it is. You have to give right of way to any public street


Yea I always find it amazing how people like Carolyn Short and Russell Pearce never look inwards too evaluate their own behavior to see if it might be part of their problems. It's always something or someone else who is to blame.

She admits that she keeps recreational drugs (and yes alcohol is just another recreational drug, with very little medicinal value except as a disinfectant) and she runs an organization that claims it's about keeping drugs out of Arizona. What hypocrisy, alcohol kills more people every year than heroin, cocaine, meth and the rest combined. Marijuana on the other hand has been used as a medicine since the dawn of man without a single recorded death. If it's so dangerous, show me the bodies. They can't of course because it's a big lie.

But Carolyn Short wants to make people who use a natural God given plant criminals, locked up in cages like animals, just so she wont have to admit that she may be part of her daughters problems. What sick demented person she must be.


Guest - that is why the law provides for caregivers to help the patient grow their medicine. And yes, it is like throwing the see in the ground and waiting (while watering, trimming buds, etc.). The active ingredient is THC - that will exist in whatever strain or type of cannibas you grow. It doesn't have to be "special" or need expensive equipment. You must be one of those who hope to make money on the dispensaries part of the law. And, before you claim I'm ignorant of the intricacies of growing cannabis - I've been growing it since I was 12 years old and one of my best friends was the curator of the Hemp Museum in Amsterdam for 5 years. I'm no slouch.

The fact is that marijuana is easy to grow, and doesn't have to have a high potency to get a person high, especially if one is using a vaporizer or smoking it. The lungs can only transfer so much THC through to the blood stream and after the process has maxed out, you don't get any higher. Now, if you were to eat it, that would be a different matter. But still, if one has lower potency pot just consume more of it to get the same effect.

People, don't let these hucksters fool you. Grow your own, or have a caregiver grow it for you. Kick these capitalists who want to exploit you to the curb.


So keeping the sick and dieing people who want the freedom to choose their own health care options out of for profit prisons isn't a just cause? Especially when you consider the fact that Arizona is engaged in a law suit against the Federal Government over this very issue. What kind of sick demented people can hold both the position that they be free from the Federal Government forcing health care on them while wanting to lock up citizens of the state of Arizona for freely choosing their own health care?

Arizona Dispense
Arizona Dispense

A movement does not live in the Arizona Revised Statutes, but laws do. Our state defines medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites but the Carolyn Short cartel is holding up the implementation. Over 841,000 Arizonans voted for the proposition. For those who do not believe in democracies, there are other countries besides America to live in.

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