Arizona: Appellate Court Rules Cannabis Concentrates Are Not Protected Under State’s Medical Cannabis Access Law

Phoenix, AZ: A ruling from the Arizona Court of Appeals has found that the possession of concentrated forms of cannabis resin is not protected by the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana access law, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. The 2 to 1 decision upholds the two-and-one-half year prison sentence of a state-registered patient, Rodney Jones, for the possession of 0.05 ounces of hashish.

The majority opined that the legal definition of marijuana in the AMMA “does not specifically include extracted resin” and that the legislature had previously “recognized hashish and marijuana as two distinct forms of cannabis. … [B]ut marijuana alone has been singled out for separate treatment under our states.”

They added: “If the drafters [of the AMMA] wanted to immunize the possession of hashish they should have said so. We cannot conclude that Arizona voters intended to do so.”

By contrast, dissenting Judge Kenton Jones opined that AMMA defines marijuana broadly and clearly provides “evidence of intent to include hashish.” He concluded, “The resin extracted from the marijuana plant … is part of a plant of the genus of cannabis, just as sap is part of a tree … [and] therefore [is] ‘marijuana,’ as defined within AMMA, and subject to its protections.”

The ruling is expected to be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Legislation (House Bill 2630) that sought to expand the legal definition of marijuana to explicitly include “all products that are manufactured primarily from the plant” was held in committee and failed to receive a vote during the 2018 legislative session.

The case is Arizona v. Rodney Christopher Jones.

For more information, contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500 or contact Arizona NORML.