Published on:
Friday, June 29, 2018

Arizona Court Decision Spells Trouble For The Industry and Patients

This week news broke of an appellate court decision here in my home state of Arizona which, if allowed to stand by the state supreme court, could spell trouble for the fledgling cannabis industry and the thousands of patients who depend on it.

The court, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that an individual who was charged with possession of roughly 2 grams of cannabis concentrate was indeed guilty of violating the state’s criminal code, regardless of his status as a certified patient under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, qualified as such through his physician and the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The reasoning behind the court’s decision, even for Arizona, is shocking. Perhaps it shouldn’t be though, after all, this is the same state which finds itself battling Mississippi for the rights of second to last in our nation’s education system, home of Joe Arpaio, hub of immigration (colored people) paranoia, and one of the strictest cannabis prohibitionist states in the union.

According to the ruling majority, because the individual who’s case they were considering, was in possession of the concentrated form of cannabis, and not the fan leaves of the “benign” fan leaves of the “marijuana” plant, he is guilty of violating the state’s criminal code.

Need me to repeat that, but in a different way? Are you confused? Yeah, same here. Let me try to be as clear as I can with this: the court in this case has made a distinction between “marijuana” and the “narcotic cannabis.” Still messed up? Yeah, me too.

I’ll just use the majority’s own words:

“The parties agree hashish is a form of cannabis distinguishable from the green leafy substance commonly referred to as marijuana. They likewise agree cannabis is classified as a narcotic drug and that its possession is generally prohibited Arizona’s criminal code.

The parties disagree as to whether hashish is included within the AMMA’s (Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) immunities. Jones argues hashish is a preparation of marijuana plant and, because he possessed less than 2.5 ounces of hashish, he was immune from prosecution for its possession.

The state argues possession and use of cannabis is not protected by the AMMA because it is neither marijuana nor a preparation thereof, but is merely the separation of one part of the plant from another.”

You know what, I think that actually made things more confusing… I’m sorry. You try working with this shit.

In any case, the point of this article is to highlight the lengths to which these fanatical hardline prohibitionist will go in order to bring about their idea status quo; where the coloreds, hippies and jews knew their place and nobody had any issues with disappearing people in our courts of law, and excommunicating them from our “civilized society.”

There is, however, a small ray of sunshine peaking through from the abyss. In his dissenting opinion, the stated very clearly through his writing that he thinks his colleagues are off their rockers, respectfully. “The resin extracted from the marijuana plant – cannabis – is a part of a plant of the genus cannabis, just as sap is a part of a tree. Cannabis is therefore “marijuana,” as defined within the AMMA, and subject to its protections… a prior of the term, memorialized in a separate section of the code cannot supplant that definition.”

Although it didn’t change the overall decision of the appellate court in this ruling, it sure is refreshing to have a siting judge exercise common sense, and exhibit exemplary judicial standards in this case, even if he was overruled by the willfully ignorant. Unfortunately, all of this discussion is now moot with respect to the individual who was charged, and who was subsequently sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, serving a total of 366 days.

When I asked a friend of mine what she thought of this case, she got straight to the point. Her response resonated with me, so now I’m sharing it with you: “No one should get the kind of jail time this man has been given for possessing such a small amount of hash. It simply flies in the face of the massive reform that has happened not just nationwide but globally. It is cruel and inhumane.”

This is not going to be the last time you hear of the state of Arizona v. Jones, as it is more than likely headed to the state supreme court for their ruling. At least the cannabis patients of Arizona like myself, still have a fighting chance to make this right. In the end, I believe we will. Otherwise each of us risk prison… again, for the “crime” of healing ourselves.

About The Author:

Ricardo Pereyda is a founding member of The 1620 Legion, an online platform that shares perspectives from veterans in the cannabis movement. A Fellow of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, Ricardo has been a long time advocate for veterans using cannabis and receiving treatment through the VA.

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