Chris Martin had an idea for a business in Arizona, where voters passed a law that legalizes medical-marijuana "edibles" under certain conditions.

Last year, the Zonka Bar was born, available in flavors including chocolate and sugar-free peanut butter and infused with marijuana extract. Like other edibles, it was perfect for a medical-marijuana patient who didn't want to smoke, and it's less harmful than a four-pack of wine coolers.

But Martin and his associates didn't follow the rules under the 2010 law, authorities say.

New Times photo illustration

Had they contracted with a so-far-nonexistent state-authorized dispensary to distribute Zonka Bars, their actions would have been legal.

Instead, these entrepreneurs face multiple felony charges and the possibility of years in prison.

In seemingly schizophrenic Arizona, 841,346 voters passed a liberal law that legalizes marijuana for those with certain medical ailments, but the state is governed by rabid conservatives who are some of the law's most vocal opponents.

Local cops could be taking a different approach to this very political issue. They could use reasonable discretion, but they've chosen to side with the prohibitionists.

State law is part of the problem. Not the new law, but the old, obsolete law — the one that says possession of a single grain of marijuana is a felony and that selling, growing, or transporting marijuana or the "narcotic" of "cannabis" are serious felonies. Cops love making felony arrests — and usually it's a good thing. But not in this case.

Police allege that Martin and his associates sold a product labeled as medical marijuana to various "compassion clubs," which, in turn, sold them to medical-marijuana patients.

Without a doubt, this has something do with the burgeoning medical-pot industry authorized by the passage of Prop 203. Law enforcement officials aren't seeing it that way, though.

A Yavapai County task force that calls itself PANT (Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking) led a lengthy investigation into Zonka Bars. No fewer than 100 law officers took part. A September 17 news release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office about the bust is titled: "P.A.N.T. takes out Drug Sales Syndicate — Items Sold Included Cannabis Candy and Treats."

Four people have been arrested so far: Christopher Lee Martin, 37, and Andrea Lyn Martin, 33, of Prescott and Todd James, 40, and Christopher Goodrich, 39, both of Phoenix. Others may be arrested or charged as the investigation continues, cops say.

Raids took place on September 12 and 13 at a commercial kitchen; the Joint ReLeaf Compassion Club, 3143 East Roosevelt; AZ CPC, 1833 East Indian School Road; Green Cross, 1000 East Indian School Road, and the home of James, all in Phoenix.

And in Prescott, raids occurred at The Green Cross, 919 12th Place, #14, and Hippie Village Emporium, 635 Walnut Road.

Authorities seized 20 pounds of marijuana, "hundreds" of Zonka Bars and other candy made by the company and about $70,000 in cash. Numerous firearms also were recovered (though that would be the case with a raid of many homes in Arizona).

Martin was the leader and master chef who created the line of candy bars and other products, police point out.

Authorities say the investigation began with a tip to Silent Witness, plus other citizen complaints.

But it's not like the Zonka company was skulking around a street corner or attending meetings with Los Zetas. The company has been advertising on the Internet since April. Its website still was up at press time, advertising pot-infused candy bars, lollipops, and ice cream. The site has rolling banners that warn against use by children and recommend getting the advice of a doctor.

Martin and the others are not just charged with selling pot — they're charged with selling a "narcotic." Arizona law has long defined "cannabis" as the resin extracted from marijuana plants, and "cannabis" is deemed a "narcotic" that merits higher penalties.

The 2010 law apparently nullifies that "narcotic" designation by defining usable marijuana as the plant or "any mixture or preparation thereof."

But prosecutors allege that the Zonka folks were operating outside the 2010 law, and, therefore, the harsh "narcotics" designation applies.

Jack Fields, chief of the civil division of the Yavapai County Attorney's Office, says he believes that, in general, distributing a Zonka-like product to a state-authorized dispensary could be legal.

But it's the view of his office that no marijuana can be sold except by dispensaries, which don't exist yet. Patients can exchange marijuana among themselves under some of the law's rules, as long as nothing of value is transferred. Registered caregivers can be reimbursed by patients for some of their expenses. But Fields says nothing in the 2010 law allows for compassion clubs, whose operators claim they're giving away marijuana to dues-paying members.

Although all of Zonka "players" were either medical-marijuana patients or caregivers, the law doesn't allow them to manufacture Zonka candies and sell them wholesale to compassion clubs, Fields says.

The medical-marijuana law, he says, "in our view, calls out very narrow exceptions."

In other words, Yavapai County expects those in the medical-marijuana industry to walk a tightrope — and jail will be waiting if they fall.

Fields acknowledges that his boss, County Attorney Sheila Polk, "has very strong opinions" about the medical-marijuana law.

That's for sure. Polk is one of the state's most vocal anti-marijuana activists. Recently, she even stooped to putting out false propaganda about a supposed plan by Arizona U.S. Attorney John Leonardo to shut down dispensaries if they ever open. ("Polk's Letter Misstates AZ U.S. Attorney's Position," July 31). Her bad info subsequently was picked up and repeated by Sheriff Scott Mascher in his own letter to the governor.

In their letters, the Yavapai officials asked Jan Brewer to prevent any dispensaries from opening. Brewer already has delayed the advent of Arizona's pot shops for more than a year by ordering the rejection of all dispensary applications. Brewer eventually was ordered by a state judge to give voters what they wanted, and some dispensaries may open this month.

But would-be pot-shop operators have been warned by state Attorney General Tom Horne and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, both Republicans, that a judge could decide in a pending lawsuit that federal law trumps the voter-approved medical-pot law. If that happens, Montgomery said, he'll bust everyone he can — even card-holding patients.

An affiliate with Green Cross, one of the targets in the PANT investigation, says the state's "vendetta" against medical marijuana "makes me want to vomit."

The affiliate didn't want to give his name, but he says he knows Chris Martin and the others involved with Zonka personally.

"These are really nice people — they're not criminals," he says. "They have been arrested for creating an edible line. The only drug they were working with was marijuana."

Martin, president of a Prescott Valley motorcycle club that does charity rides, has been in trouble before. A check of court records turned up a conviction for growing pot and a 1996 arrest for criminal damage and assaulting a peace officer.

Whatever Martin's background, he seems to have a head for business.

He just got busy too early.

Show Pages
 
My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
morecowbell898
morecowbell898

AZ needs to concentrate on rounding up illegals and deporting them. not disobeying the will of the voters.

ebailey75057
ebailey75057

Marijuana is not a narcotic.  And if its so bad why does the US government have the patent on Cannabis oil which is supposedly a miracle drug for cancer.  Me smells a plot!!!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

HipTip #1 = Don't do the Crime if you can't do the Time.

 

HipTip #2 = Arizona DESERVES the Politicians it Elects !!

 

Reap What Ye Sow!

porcupine
porcupine

I feel like taking up toking up just out of spite after reading this story. It's been a while and I never did like it but hey- if it would make a difference, I'll walk around stoned all day everyday. Absolutely outrageous to blatantly ignore the will of the people yet again. If pot were manufactured by a drug company for a huge profit, it would most definitely cease being an immoral and criminal substance. How random and arrogant.       

CFab9
CFab9

I agree with many of you. I voted for medical marijuana, and have legally obtained my card. To have elected official, Bill Montgomery, state that if a judge decides to side with the feds on the pending medical-pot lawsuit he willl "bust everyone he can-even card holding patients" makes my blood run cold. Does this mean he will raid the data base with our infomation in it? Are we fish in a barrell?  Can't we as voter pass a law that states ant elected official that knowingly and deliberately interferes with voter approved legislation gets fined or go to jail... at the very least disbarred? Isn't this the equivalent of voter supression? ....also who in Az. is pro medical marijuana? I am a registered voter and want people in office who will not try to subvert the things i vote for.

lonestar5915
lonestar5915

This is one case I hope the ACLU takes up and runs it through the entire court system causing the states Tyrants to have to pay billions of dollars trying to prosecute in opposition of the peoples choice about medical marijuana.

virgodave001
virgodave001

Dont you all know by now that Arizona is a police state? They are looking for any reason to lock us up so they can get our money. Thats what its all about, money. We need to vote out these idiot politicians and their appointee's. We voted to legalize for medical use. We should be able to find some candidates for state and local office who are compassionate and in tune with the voters. I cannot wait till the current generation of politicians ages and passes on. I hope they all get painful incurable cancers and die a slow torturous death without taking advantage of the medical benefits of Marijuana.

jared.atkin
jared.atkin

I think all these politicians that are fighting this need to sit down and smoke a joint instead of believing what they have been lied to about their entire life.

 

Tihomir Gligorević
Tihomir Gligorević

Because for the laughable Republican majority in the state legislature, 'doing what the voters want' only applies to issues they agree with.

Chris Stevens
Chris Stevens

Its happening in cali also,of course its going to cause some problems but its a law that passed!

Eric W. N. Mulenfeld
Eric W. N. Mulenfeld

WE voted for it and they are telling us we cant have it. jan brewer must misunderstand her job to upjold what we want.

nancy496
nancy496

Let's have another prohibition on alcohol. I'm all for it.

diehippydie
diehippydie

sorry stoners, the adults have seen through your charade. you can go ahead and keep getting high and we'll keep incarcerating you according to the law. if you don't like it, move to california.

al.bab
al.bab

This is absolutely ridiculous. I've been a Zonka Bar customer since the day I obtained my medical card and they regardless of their "content" they make elegant, amazing products with a team (and partnerships) of wonderful people.  Fight back and lets let Arizona know how much stress and constraint the "elected" has put on our citizens this November. Fuck this.

tom10545az
tom10545az

well, guess since they could not get the courts to overturn the law, apparently "law enforcement" are now judges who "interpret the law" as they see fit, and then arrest innocent people.

hey, butt head, call it what ever you want, we legalized it, calling it something else does not change anything...except in you all's little vindictive brains

 

100 officers to investigate "a drug syndicate"  of 4 people advertising on the internet for a legal product...must have been hard tailing them from home to work to home..again and again and again...great undercover work there..who's next?  more deadbeat parents, animal cruelity, doggie porn on craigslist, stoners, brown people?

geee, american citizens trying to start a legal business and now are arrested...have fun for now horny and billy, 2 yrs and your gone

dennisaa
dennisaa

Arizona arrests innocent people every day. Our State officials feel the citizens are an ATM for them to spend thus the overzealous police. The people of Arizona want this law so why don't we recall these politicians who lie and break the law themselves and block voter referendums?

dennisaa
dennisaa

Arizona arrests innocent people every day. Our State officials feel the citizens are an ATM for them to 'withdraw money' whenever they like plus the overzealous police supervised by overzealous supervisors. The people of Arizona want this law so why don't we recall these politicians who lie and break the law themselves and block voter referendums? What he was doing should have been legal but the State refuses to open dispensaries as voted into law by the citizens of Arizona. The federal Marijuana patent #6630507 (cannabinoids as anti-oxidents) explains the medicinal properties of MM.

joe013
joe013

vote the goons out.

trichometrist
trichometrist

Democracy has its downfalls. Most of the people who voted "no" on medical cannabis work for the government or profit from cannabis prohibition.

When a new management takes over a corporation they usually replace everyone . 

Getting public serpents to do the job "WE" voted them to do , not pick and choose wich laws to enforce.

Vote out anyone who cant let go of the hatred for Cannabis , they should not be working in a public position If they cant respect the will of the voters ,

Ca. prop 215 was made a law by the people for the people Yet officials still claim federal trumps state. When its convenient . immigration / marriage  etc.

October 16 , Americans For Safe access challenges federal mis-scheduling of Cannabis.

Courts will have to respect the law even when LEO refuses to.

The biggest scam in the world is labeling cannabis as a "dangerous narcotic"

Anyone who has tried cannabis knows it is relatively benign and the most dangerous thing about cannabis is the prohibition against it. Yet these drug warriors continue to demonize a plant that has been a medical miracle. VOTE  THEM OUT!

RECALL

SUE THE STATE

OVERGROW THE GUBMENT

WWW.THEWEEDBLOG.COM

 

 

free_radical
free_radical

Don't just complain.  Let's fight back!  Organize!  Work hard and donate to groups who are actively working to make it legal.  World events are showing us clearly the power of PEOPLE UNITED!  When we all push together, we get it done.  Find the groups that are working to legalize and help them.

 

narizona
narizona

God...How long do dinosaurs live? It is such an insult  to my inteligence.........This shits worse than old wives tales ..........just checked the calender and its the year 2012 WTF give me a break already I'm 63 and have been hearing this crock of shit forever it seems . I watched reefer madness in grade school ....thought it was funny then .....yes I smoked then ............but now the topic has become totally insane to hear horny or wild bill Talk about it and refer to it as a NARCOTIC ...simply incredible what a little power does to ones mind .....Hey horny what does your wifey think about you screwing around with  another woman ? Lifes  a bitch EH ...

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

This has gone on way to long already, there is only one option left to the voters.

 

Get rid of these idiots in Nov. and/or impeach them after Nov. for failing to uphold the will of the voters.

 

There are no other options left folks, the legislators who are refusing to enact this law are deliberately subverting the will of the voters, they have made it clear they have no intent to do what we put them there to do so our only option is to remove them via any legal means possible.

 

There is no other option.

narizona
narizona

CFab9....Welcome to reefer madness .........It's going to get worse before it gets better .These old fucks are so hooked on LEGAL drugs that they don't want to see the illusion they created is very rapidly fading .Where it will go ? only time will tell . This State of Arizona has needed to flush the DANG toilet so to speak and get rid of  all the dinosaurs that are in effect .....controling this maddness . PEACE!

ebailey75057
ebailey75057

To diehippydie   We the stoners now hold a 58% majority in favor of legalization.  Only a matter of time Redneck.  You and your alcohol lobbyist friends can all go to hell.  

teknik
teknik

 @diehippydie so you'll throw a hard working, tax paying, law abiding american citizen in jail for growing and using a plain in the privacy of their own home?

 

and you say you are in favor of small government?

 

hard line conservatives like you have a welcome home in iran.

lynchll14
lynchll14

 @diehippydie 

You would be surprised to know that the largest age group for medical marijuana is 35 and older, so that means it is adults taking advantage this.  Instead of medical marijuana patients moving to California, why don't you move from 1960 to 2012.  By the way, women and blacks can vote now.  Get with the times you outdated fuck

 

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

 @diehippydie 

 

So you don't care that the VOTERS passed the law and the state of arizona is refusing to implement it, thus breaking the law and giving voters the middle finger - gee, then why do we vote at all? Why do we elect people? If the people we elect are not going to follow the law and the will of the voter, why bother, why not just have kings and no law?

 

The only state laws being broken here, which is all state officials can speak to, are being broken by the state officials.

 

But since you don't care about Due Process and the Constitution, you are the one that needs to move since you clearly do not believe in the principals and LAWS this country and state was founded on.

 

If you don't like this country so much, as proven by your own words, move to Iran

 @lynchll14  @diehippydie 

Sorry lynch, you're statistic is wrong, see the article in The Range (below).  So tell me, what kind of "chronic" illness/pain are people 18 - 30 experiencing?  For the most part, they aren't, they just have doctors who will sign off anyone. If it is going to be medical, put it in pharmacies and hold doctors accountable.  That is the only way it can possibly be respected as legitimate.

Medical Marijuana by the (State DHS) Numbers Posted by J.M. Smith on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 10:20 AM

The latest medical marijuana application report from the state Department of Health Services shows that the number of patients and caregivers continues to creep upward.

As of Au/ 13, there were 31,084 people with MMJ cards. Of those, 25,097 were new applications; 4,080 were renewed cards; and 1,217 were changed information, such as addresses. Just more than 700 either added, replaced or removed caregivers. So far, the largest age group is 18-30, which comprises almost 27 percent of patients. The next largest age group is their parents, ages 51-60. Hehe. There were 20 patients under 18 and 92 age 81 or older, and 73 percent are men, according to DHS.

Chronic pain was the ailment most-commonly used to get MMJ cards at 90 percent of patients. The next most common ailment is muscle spasms (13 percent), followed by nausea (9 percent) and hepatitis and cancer (4 percent).

 
Phoenix Concert Tickets
Loading...