A mid-October sentencing hearing ended a criminal case that shined light and tested some of the loopholes of Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act. Prosecution hinged on the murky provision in the law allowing medical marijuana card holders with a “caregiver” designation to “transfer” marijuana to other card holders.
Prosecutor Megan McCoy contended that John Monteiro, 36, and his girlfriend Jordan Peterman, 24, extorted and violated the provision to engage in an illegal pot selling enterprise. A Mohave County Superior Court jury acquitted Monteiro at trial in July but found Peterman guilty of conspiracy and a sales related charge.
Judge Lee Jantzen said evidence at trial suggested that the couple was involved in marijuana sales activity beyond legal boundaries. He noted Peterman was conducting pot sales to Monteiro’s card-holding friends and that, while Monteiro was actually more culpable, Peterman was convicted because of evidentiary distinctions.
Jantzen said Peterman’s cell phone text message communications involving marijuana increments and prices explained her convictions, while Monteiro was found not guilty due to the lack of such evidence against him. Jantzen said the trial illustrated how aspects of the medical marijuana act and associated laws are confusing police, prosecutors and others regulating the industry.
“I was trying to help people,” Peterman said at sentencing. “I understand the activity was somewhat wrong, but felt I was doing right.”
Jantzen said the trial involved a “ridiculously small” amount of marijuana. “This was not the crime of the century,” he said.
Though prison and jail time were available options, Jantzen declined to order any incarceration. He placed Peterman on probation for 18 months and directed her to perform 60 hours of community work service.