One student fought to take his case to the state’s supreme court.
Photo by MmeEmil via Getty Images
Andre Maestas wasn’t the first person to be arrested for pot on campus in Arizona, but he fought to be the last. And on Wednesday (May 23), the court ruled in his favor, banning criminal charges against medical marijuana patients at colleges in the state. A campus can still forbid cannabis from being smoked on site, but they can arrest students for it.
In 2014, Maestas was charged with a felony for being caught with only 0.4 grams of marijuana in his Arizona State University dorm, even though he has a medical prescription. He uses medical marijuana for back pain due to a misaligned vertebra. Seeing it as an opportunity for reform, Maestas took his case to the Arizona Supreme Court.
“Nobody wants to be the person who has to go to court,” said Maestas, “but I feel that my situation and my case was so that it was an opportunity for this to happen.”
Arizona voted to allow for medical marijuana in 2010, but it included one unique provision. It forbid medical marijuana on school grounds: elementary school, middle school, high school and even school buses. A new bill was signed in 2012, adding a law to extend that ban to college campuses as well, where marijuana is more likely to be used, even if it’s meant for medical purposes.
Maestas had already succeeded in reducing his felony charges to a class 1 misdemeanor, but he and his lawyer decided to push the case further to overturn the law completely. The Arizona Supreme Court decided last week that medical marijuana can’t be illegal in one particular kind of residency when it wasn’t outlined in the bill Arizona residents voted on. Maestas had his charges wiped, turning his small stash bust into reformed policy.
“He is a very courageous young man,” said Tom Dean, Maestas’ attorney. “He really stood on principle.”