Medical marijuana edibles, even if purchased by a patient from a dispensary, remain illegal, the state’s top health official warned Friday.
State Health Director Will Humble cautioned that the medical marijuana law requires that food products contain actual pieces of the cannabis plant. He said the statute is clear that only “usable marijuana” is legally protected and not the extracts without the plant. Anything that contains only an extract, he says, is still a felony.
In other words, he said, someone with a medical marijuana card could legally make, sell or possess a tea bag with cannabis. But selling — or even possessing — the brewed tea in a bottle, with no plant material, could be a felony.
Attorney Ryan Hurley, whose clients include dispensary owners, acknowledged that Arizona law makes a distinction between cannabis as defined in the 2010 statute and what he called an “archaic” definition of cannabis extracts that are illegal under the criminal code, and that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not include extracts.
But Hurley said he believes it was always the intent of those who crafted the law to allow edibles made from extracts.
That’s also the opinion of Morgan Fox, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which crafted the Arizona law. He said the statute allows use of not just cannabis but also any “preparation” of the drug, which he says includes extracts.
“I have no doubt that the state will be challenged if it tries to exclude edible marijuana products from protection,” he said.
Meanwhile, Humble said state health inspectors will soon be examining the recipes of edibles being sold at cannabis dispensaries and advising operators when they think the products are not protected by the law.