Arizona Supreme Court Will Hear Cannabis Extracts Case
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Arizona Supreme Court Will Hear Cannabis Extracts Case

The question of whether cannabis extracts are criminally punishable in Arizona will be taken up by the highest court in the state.

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January 9, 2019

The Arizona Supreme Court will take up the open question of cannabis extracts’ status under the state’s medical marijuana law, as Arizona v. Jones heads into its sixth year of civil litigation. The case is being watched closely by medical marijuana patients and businesses alike.

We last left off with the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling in July 2018 that the state’s medical marijuana law does not permit the use of cannabis extract products, like oil cartridges. As we reported last summer, the court refers to those products collectively as “hashish” or “the resin extracted from the marijuana plant,” and insists that the state law “in no way immunizes the possession or use of hashish.” 

In short, under the current interpretation of the law, possession of “hashish”—cannabis extract products—is a class-4 felony under Arizona state law.

Following the 2018 Court of Appeals ruling, medical marijuana dispensaries have cautiously continued to sell cannabis extract products. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act provides a bit of regulatory leeway in selling cannabis extract products, by allowing the sale of “the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof.” Once a patient takes a vape cartridge or an edible out of the store, though, the current case law places them at risk of a criminal arrest for possession.

That’s how this case started in 2013: with the arrest of Rodney Jones in Prescott, Ariz., for possession of 1.4 grams of “hashish.” Jones, a registered medical marijuana patient, went on to serve 366 days in jail.

Now that the Arizona Supreme Court is stepping in, businesses around the state will either receive the green light to keep selling them or be told to clear the shelves.

"It's definitely good news," Jared Keenan, a criminal justice staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Phoenix New Times, which first reported the news. "We're hoping they overturn the opinion of the lower court, obviously, and protect patients." 

A decision isn’t expected for a few months; supplemental briefs from the parties in this case are due by Jan. 28.