Arizona dispensaries will be able to sell medical marijuana extracts and edibles without fear of legal consequences if a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) proves successful.
A favorable court decision would be a huge victory for Arizona’s medical marijuana industry. It would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to legally offer more diverse types of medical marijuana products, such as oils and edibles.
The suit was filed by the ACLU in an attempt to protect the parents of a five year old boy with severe epilepsy from criminal prosecution for supplying their child with marijuana-derived oil. The suit requests the court to officially rule that marijuana extracts are covered under Arizona’s medical marijuana law.
“When Arizona’s voters said yes to legalizing medical marijuana in 2010, they intended for sick people to have access to this medication in forms like extracts, which are easier to ingest and can be more accurately dosed than simple plant material,” it says in the suit. The lawsuit also notes that the marijuana extraction process “allows producers to isolate the most medicinally valuable constituents of the plan and provide them to patients in a form that can be taken in precise doses and has no psychoactive effect.”
A large majority of revenues at dispensaries in other medical marijuana states come from marijuana extracts and concentrates, such as edibles, hash, kief, and oils. Denver Relief dispensary of Colorado has mentioned that 50% of its sales are from edibles, extracts and concentrates; whereas 2 years ago they made up just 10% of sales.
In Arizona, these extracts, as well as edibles made with them, are stuck in a legal gray area. Police find them illegal, while the Arizona Department of Health Services is in limbo; although, they have stated that they are “developing guidance to clarify these issues for licensed dispensaries. The guidance will provide clarity regarding extraction processes for mixing and/or preparing edibles and liquid suspensions from the dried flowers of the marijuana plant. We expect to have the guidance sometime in October .” The guide is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Arizona dispensaries sell edibles, but they risk legal repercussions, depending on what the edibles consist of.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has indicated that Arizona’s laws do not allow for such marijuana products, so he threatens prosecution against medical marijuana patients and Arizona dispensary owners. However, the Arizona medical marijuana industry argues that extracts are covered under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), falling under the catch-all term of “useable marijuana.” Arizona’s law states “dried flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof…” are legal.