Attorney General Wins Big Victory against Physician Immunity under Marijuana Act

Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today a major victory in litigation involving the scope of physician immunity under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act or AMMA.

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled the AMMA does not immunize a physician against prosecution for falsely attesting that he or she reviewed a patient’s medical records from the previous twelve months before providing a written certification authorizing medical marijuana use.

“Arizona voters never intended for our medical marijuana laws to give criminal immunity to anyone who breaks the law in order to operate marijuana mills aimed at maximizing profits rather than providing good patient care,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“Today, the Supreme Court sent a clear message; if doctors commit a crime while issuing medical marijuana certifications they will be held accountable,” added Brnovich.
 
In 2012, a Navajo County Grand Jury indicted Dr. Robert Gear on one count of Forgery and one count of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices. Dr. Gear allegedly signed a medical marijuana certification for a police informant before receiving a year’s worth of the patient’s records. The trial court dismissed the indictment, ruling ARS 36–2811(C) immunized Dr. Gear against prosecution on those charges. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

In today’s ruling written by Justice Clint Bolick, the Arizona Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the Court of Appeals, reversed the trial court’s order of dismissal, and returned the criminal case against Dr. Gear back to the trial court in Navajo County.

Solicitor General John R. Lopez IV argued the case before the Arizona Supreme Court.

Assistant Attorney General Maria Syms authored the Amicus Curiae Brief on behalf of the State of Arizona.

For additional information, members of the media may contact Mia Garcia, Director of Media Relations at (602) 339-5895 or Mia.Garcia@azag.gov.

To read the decision in full, CLICK HERE.

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