Arpaio, MCSO Create Team to Target "Medical Marijuana Frauds"

Medical marijuana dispensaries are still months from opening their doors, but Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is getting antsy.

A press release from the Sheriff's Office Wednesday says it has created a new enforcement unit that targets "medical marijuana frauds," even though medical marijuana patients can't even apply for privileges until April 14.

The Sheriff's Office says the point of the unit is "targeting people who violate state laws against marijuana while trying to hide under the guise of the recently-passed Arizona medical marijuana law, Proposition 203."

Arpaio says he wants to be prepared for unauthorized pot dealers or smokers who try to abuse the new law.

"Proposition 203 permits the medicinal use of marijuana in certain narrowly defined medically-necessary circumstances," Arpaio says. "It will not be a get out [of] jail free card that allows drug dealers and other criminals to sell to anyone with money or use it illegally."

Arpaio says he and his staff have already met with Department of Health Services director Will Humble to talk about implementation of the law, although the finalized medical marijuana rules aren't expected until March 28.

The release also notes that Arpaio requests cooperation with future dispensaries, asking them to notify the sheriff's office any time medical marijuana is being transported within the county.

"This will allow his deputies to know of lawful shipments, and knowing of this will ensure that the Sheriff's Office has full awareness of the additional risks that might go with transporting a product that may be targeted for theft and/or robbery by the criminal element," states the release.

Apraio wouldn't say whether he agreed with the law, but is hopeful that marijuana sales-tax revenue will help pay law enforcement costs.