The Maricopa County Superior Court [official website] on Friday ruled that Arizonans may use marijuana extracts for medical conditions. The Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website] filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in October on behalf of the Welton family seeking a declaration that the marijuana derivative used to treat five-year-old Zander Welton’s epilepsy is permissible under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) [materials] and, in addition, local prosecutors must stop pursuing charges against Zander’s parents. Judge Katherine Cooper found that the AMMA allows patients to use marijuana extracts without fear of prosecution:
It makes no sense to interpret the AMMA as allowing people … 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.
Zander’s parents had been successfully treating his seizures with a combination of CBD oil, a non-psychoactive help extract, and marijuana. However, due to fear of prosecution, the Weltons were forced to stop using the CBD oil and rely only on marijuana, which was less effective for Zander and more difficult to properly dose and administer. According to ACLU Staff Attorney Emma Andersson, Maricopa County had placed a “cruel obstacle” [press release] between Zander and the medicine that had “drastically reduced his seizures.” Andersson noted that the court’s ruling means the county can “no longer interfere” with sick patients’ access to marijuana “in the form that best suits their medical needs,” which she asserts is “precisely what Arizonans intended” when they voted for the medical marijuana ballot initiative.
Marijuana [JURIST news archive] was a hot-button issue in several states in the November 2012 election [JURIST report]. In Washington voters approved an initiative [Initiative 502, PDF] to allow the possession and distribution of marijuana through a state-licensing system of marijuana growers, processors and stores, where adults can buy up to an ounce. The Colorado initiative [Amendment 64, PDF] actually introduces an amendment to the state constitution, allowing adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce and to privately grow up to six plants, although public use will be banned. In Oregon the Cannabis Tax Act Initiative [Measure 80, PDF] failed by approximately 55-to-45 percent [Examiner.com report] of the vote. Medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts for the first time as over 60 percent of voters approved Question 3 [Petition 11-11, PDF], an indirect initiated statute that will allow marijuana use by patients [Harvard Crimson report] with “debilitating medical conditions” and create 35 medical marijuana dispensaries. Conversely, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act was rejected by voters [AP report] in that state by approximately a 52-to-48 percent margin. The measure would have allowed doctors to issue a certificate to anyone with a “qualifying medical condition” to grow, process and use marijuana. Also on the ballot in Montana is a veto referendum regarding a 2011 revision [SB 423] of a 2004 law that established medical marijuana use in the state.