Attorneys for a medical marijuana patient are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to consider their argument that there is no legal difference between marijuana edibles, liquids, dried flowers or leaves.
Earlier this year the Arizona Court of Appeals said the medical use of marijuana does not cover products made from hashish and other extracts of the plant, but lawyers want that ruling overturned.
What the high court decides will most immediately affect the conviction of Rodney Jones, a registered medical marijuana patient, after he was found in possession of a jar containing 0.05 ounces of hashish. He was sentenced to 2.5 years on the drug possession charge and another one year on a charge of possessing drug paraphernalia.
Jones obtained the hashish, which is resin from the cannabis plant, and jar from a dispensary in Maricopa county. The Arizona Department of Health Services allows edibles and liquids to be sold through state-regulated dispensaries.
Attorney Robert Mandel plans to point out that the 2010 voter-approved law that legalized medical marijuana includes “all parts of any plant,” not just the leaves or flowers.
“Now, I’m not a botanist. I’m just an appellate lawyer,” Mandel said. “But the fact of the matter is that what is medicinal in the plant is the resin and that resin is what makes that plant a sticky plant. It just exudes right out of the plant material.”
The 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allows those with a doctor’s recommendation to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from a state-regulated dispensary. At last count there were more than 174,000 people who qualify.
Mandel pointed out that state health officials from the beginning have concluded that means not just plants but products made from the plants. These range from candy bars and gummy bears to oils that can be administered to children who have been recommended medical marijuana by a doctor.
“There are many people who literally cannot be smoking joints, or whatever it is they do nowadays, and cannot be eating the raw plant material, but who benefit from preparations and mixtures,” he said.
No date has been set for the justices to review the lower court ruling.