54-year-old Lon Victor Post of Golden Valley, Arizona was recently arrested for possession of marijuana, but in a later conversation told police that he thought that marijuana was already legalized in his state. For Post, smoking marijuana in public was business as usual, and he was reportedly astonished to learn the news that recreational marijuana is still illegal in Arizona.
According to the Mojave Daily News' public arrest record, at 1:36 am on January 4, police found Post smoking marijuana and listening to loud music in a vehicle in his neighbor's yard. Officers spotted a plastic bag of weed protruding from his shirt pocket and detected the unmistakable odor of marijuana. Post resisted arrest once officers determined that he was not registered medical marijuana patient, information that Post volunteered.
Mohave County Sheriff's office spokeswoman Trish Carter wrote in her report that an officer was then forced to use a taser on Post when he allegedly refused to cooperate.
"Further conversations with Post, he said that he thought marijuana was legal," Carter wrote in the police report as reported by the Phoenix New Times. "The deputy advised Post that marijuana is illegal without a prescription and medical-marijuana card."
About 100 miles away, marijuana is recreationally legal in Nevada and California, but possession of any amount of marijuana in Arizona can result in a felony conviction. Even medical marijuana patients in Arizona are not permitted to smoke in public. Last November, Arizona voters failed to pass Proposition 205, becoming the only state that voted to reject a recreational marijuana ballot initiative in 2016. The measure was defeated by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.
In Post's (questionable) defense, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, California, Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine and Washington, D.C have all legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Deciphering state marijuana laws in 2017 is no easy feat.
However, in the eyes of law enforcement, ignorance of state law is not a suitable defense. While Marijuana may be socially acceptable in all 50 states, the long arm of the law is often there to enforce marijuana laws that many of us may see as unfair and outdated.