Arizona marijuana attorneys are asking the state supreme court to side with their argument that the state’s medical marijuana law makes no distinction between cannabis edibles, liquids, dried flowers or leaves. The appeal follows a decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals, which upheld the marijuana possession conviction of a man found with 0.05 ounces of hashish, for which he was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison (for drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia). Defendant had obtained the hashish (cannabis plant resin) and jar from a legal dispensary in Maricopa County.
The state allows regulated dispensaries to distribute medical edibles and liquids to be sold for medical use. The 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act allowing one to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana twice a month, something more than 174,000 people qualify. Defendant’s attorneys are arguing that the active medicinal ingredient in the plant is the resin, and that the law doesn’t expressly exclude certain parts of the plant. There is no provision that says only the flower or only the leaves are allowed. The law defines marijuana broadly to include all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis, whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plants.
In State v. Jones, both sides disagreed as to whether hashish was included within the immunities of AMMA. Citing a previous state supreme court case from the late 1970s, the appeals court noted the legislature recognizes marijuana and hashish as two distinct forms of cannabis, and that the differing forms of treatment between marijuana and hashish have to do with its potency and rendering it susceptible to “serious and extensive abuse.” The state’s medical marijuana law makes no mention of hashish one way or another.
The court found that while the AMMA immunizes medicinal use of a mixture or preparation of marijuana (i.e., edibles), it doesn’t immunize hashish, which is processed from the separated or extracted resin. Appellate court justices said they couldn’t speculate if voters intended to immunize the use of hashish and if so whether they intended to decriminalize the drug in the same amounts as the far less potent (and even benign) marijuana flowers. The state law shields qualified, registered marijuana patients from arrest, prosecution or penalty that would arise from the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, because criminal law treats the resin and leaves differently, the state argued the same should be applied where the AMMA is concerned. The majority appellate court agreed.
One justice dissented, arguing that adherence to the law and not speculation should govern the resolution of this matter, and further that defendant, as a registered qualifying patient subject to AMMA protections and possessing a quantity of the drug less than the allowable amount of “marijuana,” he should be immune from prosecution on these charges, his convictions and sentences reversed.
That is precisely what defendant’s marijuana criminal defense attorneys will be arguing before the state supreme court.
Our L.A. marijuana defense attorneys recognize that there are many patients or even recreational users of marijuana in California who cannot smoke marijuana and they also can’t eat raw plant material. Instead, they benefit from the various preparations and mixtures – including hashish.
If you are arrested on marijuana charges in L.A., our experienced, knowledgeable defense attorneys can help you fight the charges.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Attorneys Seek To Overturn Arizona Edible Marijuana Ruling, Sept. 12, 2018, By Claire Caulfield, KJZZ.org
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Technology Helping to Clear Past Marijuana Arrest Records, May 17, 2018, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog