New limitations on medical marijuana sales

PHOENIX — A new ruling from the state Court of Appeals threatens to make criminals out of medical marijuana patients who choose edibles and drinks rather than smoking the drug, and the dispensaries that prepare and sell them.

In a divided decision, the majority concluded that hashish, essentially the resin of the cannabis plant, is legally not the same as the plant itself. More to the point, they said the 2010 voter-approved law that legalized marijuana for medical purposes allows patients to possess only forms of the plant and not the resin — or anything made from that.

Most immediately, the ruling upholds the conviction of a medical marijuana patient who was sentenced to 2.5 years in state prison for having 0.05 ounces of hashish.

But attorney Jared Keenan, of the American Civil Liberties Union, pointed out that many edibles are made not with the full plant but with the resin. And if possession of that resin in any form is a felony, then everything from candy bars and gummy bears to drinks and even oils used for children becomes illegal.

“Up until this ruling, the Department of Health Services, which provides licenses for every dispensary, was allowing dispensaries to sell the products that the Court of Appeals just deemed were illegal,” he said.

The ruling drew a rebuke of sorts from Judge Kenton Jones, who wrote that his colleagues effectively were torturing the wording — and the intent — of the law in trying to say that while a cannabis plant is legal for medical marijuana patients, a product that comes entirely from that plant is somehow a crime.

“The resin extracted from the marijuana plant — cannabis — is

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