Court ruling could have cooling effect on AZ’s $425M medical cannabis market

Cannabis extracts, which account for almost half of Arizona’s medical marijuana sales, are illegal, according to the state’s Court of Appeals.

The court’s 2-1 ruling is a blow to one of the nation’s largest, fastest-growing MMJ markets, alt-weekly Phoenix New Times reported.

Upwards of 40% of Arizona’s medical cannabis sales come from concentrates and infused products, Mikel Weisser, executive director of the state’s NORML chapter, told Marijuana Business Daily.

He said the court’s decision on cannabis extracts could have a chilling effect on Arizona’s industry. MMJ sales in the state are expected to grow to $425 million-$475 million this year, according to estimates in the Marijuana Business Factbook 2018.

The issue, which arose because of a conviction in a criminal possession case, is complicated:

  • The ruling relies heavily on a separate Arizona law that makes it illegal to possess “cannabis, a narcotic drug.”
  • The law defines cannabis as the resin extracted from marijuana, according to Phoenix New Times.
  • The resin also is called hashish, which the Arizona Supreme Court classified separately from marijuana in 1978.

“By not specifically including extracted resin within its description of immunized marijuana, (the 2010 voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) adopts the ‘preexisting law distinguishing between cannabis and marijuana,’” Judge Jon. W. Thompson wrote for the court’s majority opinion.

“According to our Supreme Court, hashish is ‘the resin extracted’ from the marijuana plant,” criminalized as cannabis, a narcotic drug, and distinct from marijuana.”

The Court of Appeals’ ruling upholds the conviction of Rodney Jones, who was arrested for possession of hashish and charged with possession of 1.43 grams of “cannabis” in 2013.

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