PHOENIX — Dispensaries are worried after The Court of Appeals has ruled cannabis concentrates illegal earlier this week in Arizona. Concentrates, including hashish and cannabidiol, are not covered by the Arizona medical marijuana Act (AMMA) and are now considered illegal, according to ABC News.
The June 26 ruling was a 2-1 decision in the case of Rodney Jones, who was enrolled in the state medical marijuana program and a medical marijuana card holder when he was arrested in 2013 and indicted for marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession.
Jones had less than 2 grams of hashish in his possession when he was arrested. Voters legalized medical marijuana in 2010, but there was no specific mention of cannabis concentrates.
Arizona Concentrates Named Illegal
Rodney Jones was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail, even though he was a legal medical marijuana card holder at the time of his arrest. Jones appealed to have the conviction overturned, but two of three judges ruled against him on his appeal, citing the language of the AMMA.
"If the drafters wanted to immunize the possession of hashish they should have said so. We cannot conclude that Arizona voters intended to do so,” the ruling concluded, also noting the potency levels of cannabis extracts.
Sarah Mayhew is an attorney for the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and represented Jones at his appeal. Mayhew said that she intends to take the case to the Arizona supreme court and said that the ruling on Arizona concentrates was wrong.
Arizona marijuana laws are not exactly clear on the distinctions between traditional smoking and the consumption of products made from cannabis concentrates. Extracts from marijuana are used to make cannabidiol, the drug used to make cannabis-infused food and drinks, topicals, and vaporizers. Marijuana concentrates and extracts make up 40 percent of the legal marijuana market, according to the Arizona director of NORML, Mikel Weisser.
Unusually, Arizona's medical marijuana laws treat cannabis resin as a narcotic, which implies criminal penalties for those found in possession of products made with cannabis oils or extracts. Even medical marijuana card holders cannot legally possess these products. As of January 2019, the Arizona Supreme Court has confirmed that they will rule on the legality of medical marijuana extracts. The ruling could overturn several of the distinctions made in the AMMA.
Weisser expects investors will wait until a supreme court ruling is handed down on the technicality before walking away from millions of dollars. Medical marijuana sales in the state generated $387 million last year, and the legal industry is expected to earn more than $425 million this year. As of October 2018, dispensaries will continue to sell marijuana extract products until the Arizona Supreme Court makes a final ruling on the legality of these products.