Arizona Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Cannabis Extracts Are Ok For Patients

June 11, 2019

On May 28th, Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled 7-0, that cannabis extracts are protected under Arizona’s 2010 law legalizing medical marijuana in the state. 

The Court’s unanimous ruling came as a relief to the State’s 198,000 qualified patients and 5,600 dispensary workers. Extracts include many of the most popular methods of administering cannabis such as vape cartridges and edibles. These products are made from resin that is extracted from the plant. 

Even though the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) of 2010 made it clear that the law permits “the dried flowers of the marijuana plant and any mixture or preparation thereof,” some card-carrying patients were still prosecuted for having extracts. The problem stemmed from an existing definition of hashish in Arizona’s constitution that left enough ambiguity for an aggressive prosecutor to incarcerate qualified patients.

The Court’s May 28th ruling clearly established that the voter’s intent in 2010 was to include extracts in the AMMA.

In its unanimous decision, the Court explained,

“We hold that the definition of marijuana in § 36-2801(8) includes resin, and by extension hashish, and that § 36-2811(B)(1) immunizes the use of such marijuana consistent with AMMA.”

Tim Sultan, Executive Director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA), added, “This ruling brings clarity to the law. The Arizona Supreme Court just established that it was the voters’ intent, all along, to include extracts. With support from voters and the Supreme Court, dispensaries will continue to help qualified patients with their medical conditions. This is a win for patients and all Arizona voters.” 

The May 28th ruling stemmed from an appeal by Rodney Jones, a qualified patient who was arrested in Yavapai County for having 1.4 grams of hashish in his possession.

Jones’s case was argued to the Arizona Supreme Court by attorney Robert A. Mandel of Mandel Young, a Phoenix-based appellate law firm. “We are gratified that the Court upheld the will of the voters that patients would be allowed to use medical marijuana in whatever form works best for them,” Mandel said. “This is a great result for patients in Arizona. What is unfortunate is that Mr. Jones had to spend two-and-a-half years in prison based on a flawed interpretation of the Act.”

The ruling was a big victory for the Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA), the nonprofit trade association that defends cannabis patients and workers in Arizona. The ADA has been seeking clarity on the definition of cannabis at the State Capitol and established the Legal Defense Fund that took Rodney Jones’ case to the Supreme Court.

For existing cardholders, the ruling demonstrates that they were never in violation of the law and they never should have been in jeopardy of incarceration.

“The Supreme Court confirmed that dispensaries throughout Arizona have been following the law by allowing patients to use the administration method that works best for them,” said Eric M. Fraser, an attorney for the Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA). “We are pleased with the Court’s decision because it will ensure that patients can continue to get the treatments they need, using the administration method that works best for their individual health situations, as the voters originally intended when passing the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).”

The Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA) is the voice of Arizona’s cannabis industry. ADA membership is comprised of licensed dispensary owners and those actively engaged in business in Arizona’s medical marijuana industry. The organization is dedicated to advancing the Arizona cannabis industry through political advocacy, public education, and professionalism.