Arizona appeals court: Cannabis extracts not protected under MMJ Act

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The Arizona Court of Appeals has upheld a conviction and stated that cannabis extracts are not protected under MMJ Act.

Rodney Jones, a registered medical marijuana patient, was arrested in 2013 for possessing hashish.

He was convicted and sentenced to 2-and-a-half years in prison when the court found that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) did not protect cannabis extracts such as hash or hash oil.

The Arizona Court of Appeals recently upheld the conviction in a 2-1 decision when a judge ruled that because hashish is still criminally illegal, the AMMA does not specifically condone Jones’s use of a hash extract.

This decision is causing concern within the Arizona cannabis community in that MMJ dispensaries sell countless products, including vape cartridges and edibles, made from hash oil or other cannabis extracts.

Kevin DeMenna, a dispensary industry lobbyist called the ruling alarming although not conclusive. “It is our understanding that nothing dramatic or draconian will occur. It’s a bad development in an otherwise positive environment. This seems a little bit out of step.”

Dispensary owners are worried about being able to provide medicinal cannabis extracts to their patients with serious needs.

Dr. Heather Moroso, owner of the naturopathic Moroso Medical Center in Tucson, told News4 Tucson that without extracts, patients will be forced to smoke cannabis.

“Our youngest patient was 8 months old. He was having about 40 seizures a day. Our oldest, 97, came in just a couple months ago and said ‘Well, I quit all my narcotics,’ and she’s down to two pieces of chocolate a day…What’s she supposed to do now? Take that away from her and have her titrate back on her morphine?”

Moroso said extracts make it possible for patients to benefit from medicinal cannabis without the harmful effects of smoking.

“It’s really truly the medical side of the plant,” said Dr. Moroso. “To be able to extract it allows for different methods of delivery that are healthier. It allows for edibles, it allows for oils for kids. You’re not going to have a child who’s having seizures smoking a joint. I mean it’s ridiculous.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services has not yet instructed dispensaries to remove products made with cannabis extracts from store shelves.

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