Medical-Cannabis Extracts Like Vape Pen Oil Are Illegal, Arizona Appeals Court Rules

In a major legal setback to the state’s medical-marijuana community, the Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that cannabis extracts commonly sold in state dispensaries are illegal.

The ruling affects what the court and Arizona law calls “hashish,” or the resin extracted from marijuana. Medical marijuana consumers also know it as hash oil, shatter, wax, and other names. It’s become one of the biggest sellers at the state’s dispensaries, used to fill vape cartridges and create most cannabis-infused food and drinks.

It’s also the main ingredient in the cannabis oil used by many parents to treat epileptic children.

The appeals court found in a 2-1 decision that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act doesn’t address hashish.

Rodney Jones, a medical marijuana patient from Chino Valley, served prison time in 2017 for possessing hashish — something for sale in dispensaries across the state.

Arizona Department of Corrections

“AMMA is silent as to hashish,” wrote Judge Jon W. Thompson for the majority opinion. “Prior understanding of the pertinent words strongly indicates that AMMA in no way immunizes the possession or use of hashish. That AMMA immunizes medical use of a mixture or preparation of the marijuana plant does not immunize hashish.”

The ruling affirmed the conviction of Rodney Jones for possessing a small amount of hashish in a jar. Yet Jones was a valid, card-holding patient when he was arrested in 2013. He served 366 days in prison.

Because so much money is at stake, dispensaries are unlikely to pull products from their shelves without a final ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court. But as one legalization advocate put it, the latest ruling is “big news” in the cannabis industry.

Despite the shelves full of “hashish” in Arizona dispensaries today, the AMMA approved narrowly by voters in 2010 didn’t specifically legalize the resin in cannabis buds.

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