Tom Dean's History with Marijuana

Tom Dean’s passion for marijuana law reform began in Cleveland, Ohio, before he became an attorney. In fact, marijuana policy reform was his primary motivation to attend law school. As a college student in Ohio, he gradually became involved in marijuana policy reform by attending rallies and carefully studying the history and impact of marijuana prohibition. By the time he was admitted to the practice of law in 1993, his purpose had crystallized and he directed his attention to the marijuana policy reform movement. More specifically, he found that standing up for the rights of those charged with marijuana offenses was his calling, a commitment that continues unabated to this day.

Since being admitted to the Arizona Bar 16 years ago, Tom has developed an extensive and excellent record of successes in marijuana cases ranging from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies. He has represented countless individuals accused of all types of marijuana crimes ranging from simple possession, to importation, to transportation of marijuana, and everything in between.

The amount of marijuana involved in those cases has ranged from a couple of seeds to hundreds of pounds of marijuana. A list of the types of charges Tom handles can be found on the right-hand column, under “Areas of Practice.” Tom has rescued people from lengthy prison sentences, steep fines, drug testing, loss of student aid, deportation, and driver's license suspension.

Tom’s record of obtaining positive outcomes for his clients backs up his highly regarded reputation as an exceptional attorney in the area of marijuana law. His accomplishments in drug cases led to him being referred to as “Dismissal Dean”, a nickname given to him several years ago by an Arizona Superior Court Judge in recognition of the volume of cases that he was able to get dismissed based on police violations of his client’s constitutional rights.

In recognition of his achievements and dedication to marijuana cases, in 1999, Tom had the honor of accepting the position of Litigation Director for NORML at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., during which time he scored major victories against the government’s marijuana prohibition policies and programs.

Please refer to the Reform Cases section for more information about some of the cases he handled as NORML’s Litigation Director. In that capacity, Tom initiated and managed all of NORML’s cases and other legal matters around the country. He also coordinated the efforts of NORML’s Legal Committee, consisting of marijuana lawyers nationwide who represent individuals in key cases around the country. You are encouraged to review more information about Tom’s cases by searching the internet (e.g., Tom [or Thomas] Dean marijuana norml).

(Tom continues to serve as a member of the NORML Legal Committee,a position he has held for 14 years)

It goes without saying that Tom is a “True Believer” in the cause. While his focus is on the individual’s fundamental right to use marijuana, he is also quick to point out that marijuana prohibition hurts everyone, even those who do not use marijuana themselves. Families are destroyed, our taxes are wasted, and the government continues to lie to its constituents about the imaginary harms of marijuana use.

Prison populations swell, drug testing industries flourish and many people live in constant fear of being arrested for engaging in an innocent form of recreation involving a substance far less harmful than many legal products including alcohol, nicotine, aspirin and fried foods. Even worse, those suffering form serious illnesses are denied the only medicine that effectively treats their disorders, making worse the rising health care costs in the United States. This “reefer madness” on the part of the government must stop. This is why Tom will not back down until this travesty in American history comes to an end.


“I don’t know what I would of done if it weren’t for Thomas Dean. He is a wonderful attorney and friend who helped me sort out a mess. His ability to be calm in the face of my upset and to guide me is something I will never forget. He is a smart, talented and amazing man. I couldn’t of gotten through my trying time without his help and guidance.”


Thank you very much for the excellent work you’ve done on my case and helping me to get the only just outcome – dismissal. I will recommend you to anyone I know needing your services in the years to come – and will tell them your name of “Dismissal Dean.”