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Arizona Supreme Court rules on drug possession

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that it is possible for a person who buys and handles drugs but never actually takes them away to possess the drugs. The case arose from a reverse-sting operation. The two defendants went to a warehouse to examine marijuana, and unbeknownst to them, that warehouse was controlled and being monitored by law enforcement officers. After touching and smelling the pot, the defendants agreed to buy some of it from undercover officers.

Later, money changed hands at a house, and the defendants returned to the warehouse to repackage the marijuana they had bought and mask its odor. They were then arrested at a hotel, before taking any pot from the warehouse and charged with, among other things, possession of marijuana for sale.

The defendants argued they never possessed the pot, since it was in the warehouse the whole time and that the warehouse was controlled by law enforcement but, in its decision, the court said that by separating out the marijuana they wanted to buy, repackaging, masking its odor and paying for it, the defendants demonstrated their intent to “exercise control over and possess the marijuana, notwithstanding the police presence at the scene.”