Pubdate: Thu, 27 Mar 2014
Source: Tucson Weekly (AZ)
Copyright: 2014 Tucson Weekly
Author: J. M. Smith


The March of Cannabis Progress Continues As a Maricopa County Judge 
Sides for a Child With Epilepsy

Let them eat cake, she said, and while you're at it, let them dab wax 
and chug sodas and drip tinctures under their tongues.

She is Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper, and 
those weren't her exact words, but last week Cooper issued yet 
another court slap-down to Maricopa County Attorney William 
Montgomery in a lawsuit over marijuana extracts. These were Cooper's 
exact, joyous words about the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act:

It makes no sense to interpret the AMMA as allowing people with these 
conditions to use medical marijuana but only if they take it in one 
particular form. Such an interpretation reduces, if not eliminates, 
medical marijuana as a treatment option for those who cannot take it 
in plant form, or who could receive a greater benefit from an 
alternative form ... IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the AMMA authorizes 
qualifying patients to use extracts, including CBD oil, prepared from 
the marijuana plant.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the parents of a Phoenix boy, 
Zander Wellton, who said they have a right to treat his epilepsy with 
extracted cannabidiol oil, but it goes far beyond CBD oil. I've been 
smoking cannabis for years, and I hate it in almost every way. Having 
legal, easy access to things like oil for a vape pen or tinctures to 
take with my morning coffee is a big deal for me, and there are 
thousands of patients who are in worse shoes than me.

Just a few days after Cooper ruled in the Arizona case, the journal 
Neurology published an analysis by neurologists concluding that there 
is "strong evidence" that marijuana extracts can help with pain and 
spasticity in MS patients, but little evidence that smoking marijuana 
does. That's a real medical journal publishing real research from 
real doctors saying we need extracts, not just smoked flowers.

When you dig into the legal nuances of the ruling, you see the clear 
misunderstanding (or willful disregard) Montgomery has for this law. 
Every word of every statute has meaning, including the word 
"preparations" in this law, so you can't really pick and choose which 
words to pay attention to, Cooper wrote:

the drafters included the phrase 'and any mixture or preparation 
thereof.' These words expand the allowable manipulation of the plant. 
To conclude that patients can only use unmanipulated plant material 
would render the phrase meaningless. Basic statutory interpretation 
prohibits such a result. Each word and phrase is given meaning.

Perhaps the most pointed rebuke in the ruling is Cooper's answer to 
Montgomery's claim that the AMMA prohibits coaxing chemicals out of 
marijuana. Cooper practically said "Um, no it doesn't."

. (Montgomery) contends that there is a "prohibition on concentrating 
the chemicals in the marijuana flower" in the AMMA. (Response, p. 
10.) Where? The Court finds no such "prohibition" in the statute.

And the ruling makes moot a discussion about the differences between 
the AMMA and the criminal code. The criminal code clearly states 
extracts are illegal ... but the AMMA protects qualified patients 
from prosecution under that code. So, now it's off to the races. I 
suspect oils, tinctures, drinks and all sorts of other goodies will 
be on dispensary shelves before the end of the week, as it should be.

I think most folks in the cannabis realm expected this ruling, 
eventually. I think Bill Montgomery, Tom Horne and Gov. Jan have lost 
every court case they've brought or defended concerning the AMMA. 
There are several still pending, so I suspect we will see more 
defeats for the state.

We can only hope.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom