Author: Tim Forsman
Issue: January 16, 2018
On June 6, 2018, the Arizona Court of Appeals decided State v. Jones in a contested 2-1 decision that left Arizona’s medical cannabis regime in a state of limbo. Rodney Jones was a registered qualifying patient under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”), which meant that he was allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana under State law. Despite his status as a registered cardholder, Mr. Jones was arrested in Yavapai County and charged with possession with a small quantity of processed cannabis resin commonly known as hashish. Even though Mr. Jones was a medical marijuana patient, he was convicted for possession of a narcotic drug. Mr. Jones appealed his conviction to the Arizona Court of Appeals, but his efforts quickly went up in smoke. Judge Thompson, writing for the majority at the Court of Appeals, distinguished the resin extracted from the marijuana plant as different from marijuana itself, and held that the “AMMA immunizes medical use of a mixture or preparation of the marijuana plant” but that the AMMA “does not immunize hashish.” Confused? So were many AMMA patients and dispensaries!
The Arizona Supreme Court has granted review of the Court of Appeals’ opinion and will hear oral arguments in the case on March 19, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. Oral arguments will be held at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in the Armstrong Great Hall. The Arizona Supreme Court may have picked a larger venue for arguments in this matter due to high interest in the outcome of the case.
Hopefully the Justices at the Arizona Supreme Court will be able to clear the haze created by the Court of Appeals!
See the Court of Appeals Opinion online here.
Details on the oral argument can be found on the Court of Appeals website here.