Most people wouldn't see consuming cannabis as an act of terrorism, but Arizona prosecutor Sheila Polk does. The Yavapai County Attorney is actually believes that cannabis concentrates are as dangerous as homemade bombs.
Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona, but not all forms of cannabis can be taken medicinally. Concentrates like shatter are stuck in a legal gray area right now because the state's Medical Marijuana Act doesn't explicitly list them as an acceptable form of medication. But concentrates are listed in the state's criminal code, which prohibits possession of them, even though cannabis dispensaries across the state sell concentrates.
And that inconsistency has become a huge problem for registered cannabis patients like Rodney Jones, who was sent to prison for using cannabis extracts as medication after Polk compared cannabis extracts to homemade bombs. During the legal proceedings against Jones, Polk said that siding with patients in this case would be as bad as letting farmers use a loophole to manufacture explosives.
"A finding that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) protects the narcotic drug cannabis would be akin to a finding that explosives produced from fertilizer are protected by laws allowing the sale of farm products," Polk said in a court filling.
The Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Polk's statement and found Jones guilty of unlawful possession of cannabis oil.
However, Robert Mandel—who will be representing Jones in his appeal to the state's Supreme Court—says Polk's argument is a blatant act of "fear mongering" that defies the will of voters who approved Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act.
"It says a lot about the confidence it places in its own arguments and frankly the degree of respect it holds for Arizona voters," Mandel told KJZZ. "Arizona voters declared that Arizona patients should be able to use the medicines of the cannabis plant. That medicine is in the plant's resin."
Jones isn't the first medical marijuana patient to be jailed over the use of cannabis oil in Arizona. Fellow patient Adam Wanko is facing up to ten years in prison for possession of extracts that he purchased through a dispensary.
But that could change in the wake of Jones' appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. If the state's top justices side with him, then medical marijuana patients in the state may soon have a clear answer on whether or not they can legally use marijuana extracts as medication under the AMMA. If the court chooses to uphold Jones' conviction, then many of the other 180,000 legal medical marijuana patients in Arizona could face years in prison because of the state's inability to draft clear legislation.