An Arizona court recently ruled that much of what medical Cannabis dispensaries sell in the state is illegal. As a result of the nonsensical ruling, patients with legitimate medical marijuana authorizations could face prison sentences, reports NPR.
One patient’s felony conviction exposed the loophole. Patient Rodney Jones, a medical marijuana cardholder, went to prison for having Cannabis oil he’d purchased at a dispensary. Jones’ conviction was recently upheld by Arizona’s second-highest court.
Under the court’s logic, many of the state’s 180,000 medical marijuana patients are committing felonies. The legal dispute centers around whether Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, first approved by voters as a ballot measure in 2010, includes Cannabis extracts and concentrates.
Sheila Polk, a prosecutor and weed-hater who is one of Arizona’s staunchest foes of Cannabis, says extracts aren’t covered. It’s her office that went after Rodney Jones. “The case affirmed the way Cannabis has always been treated in this county by my office, which is that it’s a narcotic drug,” Polk said.
According to law professor Rob Mikos of Vanderbilt University, Arizona is a cautionary tale about the possible backlash of using ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana reform.
“You’re opening the door to those opponents to sort of revisit the issue and exploit those gaps,” Mikos said. A bill aimed at fixing the problem in Arizona earlier this year never got a hearing.