Arizona’s medical marijuana industry has been anxiously awaiting the verdict regarding the legality of cannabis extracts. On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a landmark appeal in the case of State of Arizona v. Rodney Christopher Jones by voting 7-0 in favor of Jones allowing the sales of marijuana extracts.
The unanimous ruling was handed down with a brief statement that explained, "We hold that [Arizona Medical Marijuana Act's] definition of marijuana includes both its dried-leaf/flower form and extracted resin, including hashish." This decision was met with a huge sigh of relief from medical marijuana industry insiders who have been waiting close to a year to see the outcome of this appeal.
The legality of cannabis extracts was called into question when the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of medical marijuana patient Rodney Jones for possession of hashish. Jones has been fighting in the courts ever since and this week scored a victory not only for himself but for the industry as a whole.
Arizona medical marijuana dispensaries won’t really be making any changes since they’ve continued to sell cannabis extracts throughout the litigation process. However, if the ruling had been different cannabis extracts would be immediately pulled from all Arizona dispensary inventory.
One of the major reasons Jones ended up in court is the stance taken by a couple of attorneys after the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) was enacted. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk did not believe the new law covered cannabis extract that could be consumed independently by medical marijuana patients.
Using a loophole they decided to prosecute any patient in possession of cannabis extracts, since the medical marijuana law protections didn't apply. The AMMA defines medical marijuana as, "the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof." Because the law didn’t specifically name marijuana resins or extracts, they took it upon themselves to crack down on qualified patients.
This week, the Arizona Supreme Court laid this matter to rest by clarifying that all cannabis concentrates were legal under AMMA. The court notes, "The word 'all,' one of the most comprehensive words in the English language, means exactly that ... Taken together, 'all parts' refers to all constituent elements of the marijuana plant, and the fact the resin must first be extracted from the plant reflects that it is part of the plant."
The court went even further, explaining the protections afforded to patients and medical marijuana dispensaries. Patients and cannabis retailers under the law are immunized from prosecution in regard to “the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, administration, delivery, transfer or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marijuana to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition."