Medical Marijuana Claims its First Arizona Death: a Medical Marijuana Thief Shot During Weed Robbery
Larry Miller, 38, tried to rob medical marijuana from a Phoenix man yesterday afternoon, which was a colossal mistake -- the man he tried to rob fatally shot him.
According to the Phoenix Police Department Miller and another man contacted a guy who'd been advertising himself as a medical marijuana salesman.
The medical weed peddler has a medical marijuana card that allows him to cultivate and possess weed. However, because of the cluster-fuck Arizona's medical marijuana program has become, it's unclear whether he's allowed to sell it, which could result in him getting charged with a crime (more on that later).
Either way, he'd been advertising that he'd sell some of his harvest to anyone with their own medical marijuana card.
Miller and another man, described only as a black male in his mid-20s, contacted the weed salesman and asked if they could make a purchase, Phoenix Sergeant Steve Martos tells New Times.
The three men met at the sellers apartment at 1780 West Missouri Avenue, where the seller asked his two clients to show him their medical marijuana cards. One of the men told him his was at his apartment and that he'd have to go get it -- luring the seller to the back of the apartment complex with him.
When they got to the back of the apartment complex, Miller pulled out a gun and tried to rob the seller.
The seller also had a gun, which he used to fatally shoot Miller. The other suspect then fled on foot with the sellers backpack, which police say contained the weed.
The seller called 9-1-1 to tell them he'd shot a man when he tried to steal his weed. When police arrived, the seller was giving first-aid to Miller.
Miller was taken to an area hospital, where he later died.
Now for the tricky part: can the seller be charged with a crime?
Because of the wording in Arizona's new law, Martos says it's unclear if the seller can be charged with a crime -- but it doesn't appear that he can.
Arizona's new statute states that in order to get a medical marijuana card, a person must pledge "not to divert marijuana to anyone who is not allowed to possess marijuana pursuant to this chapter."
Because the seller in this case was requiring his clients to produce a medical marijuana card before he'd sell them any green, he's not selling weed to "anyone who is not allowed to possess marijuana."
However, Joe Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, whose principles are the people who put Prop 203 on the ballot, tells New Times that our take on how the law's written is "a very broad interpretation of the initiative."
"We designed the initiative so that licensed dispensaries would be the place where qualified patients would obtain their medicine, (or through licensed caretakers)," he says. "My belief is that this individual doesn't meet any criteria (to sell it, if he's not a caretaker).
"This is the very reason we called for a system of licensed dispensaries," he continues.
The final determination of whether the seller can be charged with any crime will come from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office -- which has already taken a firm stance against medical marijuana.
CLARIFICATION: Phoenix Sergeant Steve Martos did not refer to Arizona's medical marijuana law as a "cluster fuck." That language was used to paraphrase his description of the law's vagueness. The way this post was originally written could have implied that those were Martos' words, which they weren't. It has since been modified.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.