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Arizona Judge Rules Extracts Fall Outside MMJ Law, Appeal Expected

A ruling by Navajo County Superior Court Judge Dale Nielson could force Arizona dispensaries to stop selling vape cartridges, cannabis oils, and edibles, according to a Phoenix New Times report. Nielson’s ruling comes in the case of a 26-year-old registered medical cannabis patient who was arrested for cannabis possession after officers discovered the processed products.

“After review of the statues the court finds that the [Arizona Medical Marijuana Act] does not include cannabis,” Nelson wrote in the ruling. “The court reads that AMMA language of ‘any mixture or preparation thereof’ as making reference to the dried flowers of the plant and as such, without further definition, or information that cannabis can be extracted from a ‘dried flower,’ the court cannot find that this would include cannabis.”

Nielson is defining “cannabis” products as those containing “the resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus cannabis, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or its resin.” He defines “marijuana,” which is protected under the AMMA, as “all parts of any plant or the genus cannabis whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant,” and “usable marijuana” as “the dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant and does not include the weight of any non-marijuana ingredients combined with marijuana and prepared for consumption as food and drink.”

This issue was at the heart of a 2014 case in Maricopa County, in which the court ruled that the language of the AMMA allows “patients to employ ‘certain process[es]’ to ‘adapt’ marijuana ‘for a particular purpose’ and a ‘convenient and practicable use,’” and many observers expect the state Appellate Court to follow that ruling in this case – which will have no immediate impact on the state’s law or products sold at dispensaries in the state.

Joe Saline, the defendant’s attorney in the case, said he expects the Arizona Court of Appeals to hear the case in order to clarify a “gray area of the law.”

“It’s an issue of statewide importance,” he said.

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