Using extracts to make medical marijuana sodas, candies and lollipops is legal, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has decided.
In an extensive ruling, Judge Katherine Cooper rejected the view of state Health Director Will Humble that the 2010 voter-approved law allows patients to smoke or otherwise consume only pieces of the actual plant. Cooper said nothing in the initiative backs that contention. The ruling, released late Friday, is most immediately a victory for the parents of Zander Welton, a 5-year-old Mesa boy who has a doctor’s permission to use medical marijuana to treat his seizures. Jacob and Jennifer Welton had been giving him a liquid tincture with marijuana extract until Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery threatened to prosecute them and anyone who supplied the product. The Weltons said it was difficult to get the boy to swallow things such as applesauce with crushed marijuana leaves, much less determine if he was getting the correct dosage. But Cooper’s ruling, unless overturned, sets the stage for the state’s 45,000 other medical marijuana patients to be able to obtain other products made not with the plant’s leaves but with extracts. “It is undisputed that medical marijuana is intended to be used by patients to treat chronic, debilitating and/or painful conditions,” the judge wrote, listing conditions in the 2010 law ranging from cancer and hepatitis to nausea, seizures and severe and chronic pain. “It makes no sense to interpret the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act as allowing people with these conditions to use medical marijuana but only if they take it in one particular form,” Cooper said. “Such an interpretation reduces, if not eliminates, medical marijuana as a treatment option for those who cannot take it in plant form, or could receive a greater benefit from an alternative form.” Montgomery had argued the 2010 law allowed the use only of “marijuana.” It specifically allows those with a doctor’s permission to obtain up to 2ƒ ounces of marijuana every two weeks. And it defines “usable marijuana” as the dried flowers of the plant “and any mixture or preparation thereof.” He said extracts technically fall under the separate legal definition of “cannabis,” which was not part of what voters approved and therefore remain prohibited.