from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No.
CR2015-113021-001 CR2015-030181-001 The Honorable Michael D.
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Terry M.
Crist, III Counsel for Appellee
& Lauritano, PLC, Glendale By Sheri M. Lauritano Counsel
for Appellant Elena Tagge
Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, Phoenix By
Nicholaus Podsiadlik Counsel for Appellant Matthew Tagge
Kent E. Cattani delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen joined. Judge Peter B. Swann
Matthew and Elena Tagge appeal their convictions for illegal
possession or use of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The
Tagges maintain that, because they held cards entitling them
to possess and use marijuana under the Arizona Medical
Marijuana Act ("AMMA"), they were immune from
prosecution. We hold to the contrary that, because immunity
under the AMMA does not extend to smoking marijuana in a
public place, the Tagges could be prosecuted for doing so in
their car in a public parking lot. Accordingly, and for
reasons that follow, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The facts are undisputed. Bound for a music festival in Mesa
one afternoon, the Tagges parked in a commercial lot near the
concert venue. The lot was owned by the City of Mesa and had
been leased to a radio station for parking for the event. The
Tagges pulled up next to two undercover Mesa police officers,
who watched as the Tagges sat in their car and smoked
marijuana from a pipe they passed between them. Although the
windows of the Tagges' car were up, police saw smoke
coming from the pipe, ordered them out of the car and seized
the pipe, along with approximately one gram of marijuana.
Each of the Tagges was a "qualifying patient" under
the AMMA. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.")
§§ 36-2801(13), -2811. At trial, they argued that
they were immune from prosecution under § 36-2811, which
generally immunizes AMMA cardholders' marijuana use,
subject to several Opinion of the Court exceptions, including
one at issue in this case: smoking in a public place.
See A.R.S. § 36-2802(C)(2). The superior court
rejected the Tagges' argument, finding that although they
were inside a closed car, they were in a public place and
were not entitled to immunity. After a bench trial, the court
convicted them of misdemeanor marijuana and paraphernalia
offenses and imposed six months' unsupervised probation.
The Tagges each filed a timely appeal.
By law, the State may not subject a qualifying patient to
arrest or prosecution for "use of marijuana pursuant to
[the AMMA]." A.R.S. § 36-2811(B)(1). This
protection "broadly immunizes qualified patients,
carving out only narrow exceptions from its otherwise
sweeping grant of immunity." Reed-Kaliher v.
Hoggatt, 237 Ariz. 119, 122, ¶ 8 (2015). Among the
exceptions: A qualifying patient may not possess or
use marijuana "[o]n a school bus," "[o]n
the grounds of any preschool or primary or secondary
school," or "[i]n any correctional facility."
A.R.S. § 36-2802(B). And a qualifying patient may not
smoke marijuana "[o]n any form of public
transportation" or "[i]n any public place."
A.R.S. § 36-2802(C). The dispositive issue here is
whether the "public place" exception to immunity
applies to smoking inside a private vehicle in a public
This court reviews questions of statutory interpretation de
novo. Reed-Kaliher, 237 Ariz. at 122, ¶ 6. In
interpreting statutes, we give special care "to give
effect to every clause and word." Premier Physicians
Grp., PLLC v. Navarro,240 Ariz. 193, 196, ¶ 16
(2016). "[W]e look to the statute as a whole, and
construe together all parts of the statute relating to the
same subject." Ariz. Health Care Cost Containment
Sys. v. Bentley,187 Ariz. 229, 232 (App. 1996); see
J.D. v. Hegyi,236 Ariz. 39, 41, ¶ 6 (2014)
("Words in statutes . . . cannot be read in isolation
from the context in which they are used."). When a term
in a statute may have differing meanings, we "consider
secondary factors, such as the ...