PHOENIX (FOX 10/AP) - The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled medical marijuana patients are protected from arrest for possessing hashish and other pot extracts as long as they don't have more of the drug than allowed.
The unanimous decision Tuesday concluded cardholders are immunized because extracts are considered marijuana under the state's 2010 voter-approved medical pot law. The ruling reversed a lower court decision that found patients faced arrest for hashish possession because the drug isn't mentioned or included by name in the law.
The case centers on the 2013 arrest of medical marijuana cardholder Rodney Jones at a Prescott hotel on charges of possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. Police say Jones had 0.05 ounces of hashish in a jar. He was convicted and later sentenced to two years in prison. The State Supreme Court has thrown out Jones' conviction and sentence.
Prosecutors in Arizona were known to go after patients found with cannabis extract products.
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk issued a statement in the aftermath of the ruling.
Other people are also reacting to the ruling.
Huge relief, celebration. Everyone's talking about it," said Lilach Mazor Power, CEO of Giving Tree Dispensary.
Medical marijuana patients and dispensaries have been waiting for the State Supreme Court's ruling. Until now, any form of marijuana other than the flower was not protected for medicinal use.
"It's like someone telling you can eat an orange, but it's illegal to drink orange juice. It's that silly," said Power, who went on to say that many patients prefer cannabis-based capsules or vape cartridges.
Pot cookies, gummies, and soda are also available, and OK for medical marijuana cardholders.
"They can no longer be prosecuted or arrested for using medicine that's most helpful to them," said Jared Keenan, a criminal justice staff attorney for ACLU of Arizona.
Jones' persistence following his arrest in 2013 now benefits other cardholders like him.
"If they're in jail, they should be immediately released. If they're in prison, they should immediately be released, and prosecuting agencies should dismiss the charges," said Keenan.
"I'm happy people are going to be able to come here and get the medicine that's right for them and not worry about it anymore," said Power.
Valid medical marijuana cardholders in Arizona are still only allowed to possess 2.5 oz of marijuana.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.