House panel OKs bill to legalize extracts under medical marijuana law

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A House committee voted Wednesday to ensure that edible forms of marijuana remain available for sale in Arizona, no matter what the Arizona Supreme Court eventually decides.

HB 2149 would spell out that the 2010 voter-approved law that allows marijuana to be used for medical purposes also legalized anything made from the resins. That can include something as simple as a tincture that a parent can give a sick child or more complex and commercial products like gummy bears and chocolate bars containing tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive elements of marijuana.

The 5-2 vote by the House Committee on Public Safety came over the objections of Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.

Although she did not appear at the hearing, Polk submitted comments calling the proposal by Rep. Tony Rivero, R-Peoria, “very irresponsible.”

“The potency level in THC extracts have reached unprecedented levels causing psychosis and harm, ” she wrote. Polk said the change in the law is “about profit, not medicine.”

It is Polk’s agency that successfully prosecuted a medical marijuana user for having 0.05 of an ounce of hashish, a drug made from resin of the cannabis plant. And it is Polk who is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to uphold that conviction and uphold the ban on extracts.

Rivero said the bill codifies what he believes was the intent of voters in 2010 when they agreed to allow patients with certain medical conditions to use marijuana.

“Without this clarification some of Arizona’s most vulnerable patients such as children will no longer have access to alternative forms of medical marijuana needed to treat their debilitating conditions,” Rivero said. “We do not want patients to be forced to smoke marijuana or be subject to criminal penalties.”

Jessica Crozier said that’s the choice she will face if the law isn’t clarified.

Crozier said her 15-year-old daughter has suffered from seizures for years, at one point running four to seven a day. Her neurologist suggested brain surgery.

“That wasn’t a path I was ready to take,” she told lawmakers.

More than five years ago she began providing a tincture — a concentrated liquid extract — of marijuana to her daughter, both to prevent seizures and help her recover after an incident.

The result, said Crozier, is that her seizures are much fewer, with none in the last six months.

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