Until this week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was backing an appellate court’s decision that extracts are not covered under Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). But this week, the AG changed his mind. He withdrew his office’s original argument to the Arizona Supreme Court, which had asked the Court to let the appellate decision stand.
Brnovich issued a new motion on Monday giving arguments supporting the appeal by Rodney Jones, a card-carrying MMJ patient convicted and imprisoned in 2014 for possessing less than half a gram of hash.
About 178,000 MMJ patients and scores of businesses across Arizona have been holding their breath following the bombshell, 2-1 decision in June by the Arizona Court of Appeals. The appellate court ruled that the AMMA does not cover extracts like vape cartridges, edibles, and other popular products sold in medical-marijuana dispensaries.
If the Arizona Supreme Court decides not to review the case, and instead lets the appellate decision stand, Arizona’s MMJ program would quickly collapse. The lions-share of products would have to be removed from the shelves, decimating the dispensaries’ bottom line. The really nasty part is that the majority of Arizona’s 178,000 card-holding patients would find it impossible to obtain their medicine.
Brnovich’s spokesman, Ryan Anderson, said the AG now wants the Supreme Court to consider the will of the voters and the needs of patients.
Mr. Anderson said the AG knows people who get legitimate medical benefit from cannabis extracts. And he has no intention of standing in the way of Arizona patients getting their legitimate medicine.
The problem is a result of a technicality long ago embedded into Arizona’s constitution. Arizona’s constitution has long distinguished between marijuana flower and the resin that can be extracted from the plant. The resin, or hashish, is considered a narcotic and carries a stiffer felony.
Some legal experts argue that the 2010 law didn’t account for “narcotic” cannabis resin. Others point out, as Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper did in a 2014 ruling, that the act allows patients to possess marijuana “and any mixture or preparation thereof.”
Now it’s up to the Arizona Supreme Court to decide (1) whether or not to review the case, and then (2) whether or not to allow extracts in Arizona. The Arizona Cannabis Monthly will keep you posted.