You’ve probably seen people talking about cannabis concentrates and patient allotments in Arizona in recent months. It’s been a hot topic – a confusing topic. The state still hasn’t decided how it’s going to calculate concentrates in patient allotments.
Much of the conflict stemmed from an Arizona Supreme Court decision amid the popular, and controversial, Jones case. Rodney Jones was arrested in 2013 in Yavapai County. He had a medical cannabis card and cannabis concentrates in his vehicle. He was charged with possessing hashish.
The case was tied up in court for years – mostly because the language in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) wasn’t clear to everyone. The Arizona Court of Appeals initially ruled that medical marijuana’s definition in the law was the flower and dried leaves of the plant. The court said that extracts (resin and oils) were not included in the law.
Fast forward to 2019 when the case really got more attention. The case went to the Arizona Supreme Court for a final ruling. It was then deemed that extracts, oils and resin are part of the usable parts of the cannabis plant – meaning that concentrates are legal for patients.
Now, bring on the next argument – how will concentrates be calculated in patient allotments?
The Arizona Supreme Court’s Ruling
Once the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the Jones case came down – patients, dispensaries and the rest of the cannabis industry in Arizona rejoiced. The stress and anxiety over a cannabis delivery method that many patients rely on is permissible under AMMA. All of the controversy over concentrates being legal left the industry and patients in a tailspin.
Patients were panicking because many can’t smoke cannabis flower – kids can’t smoke flower, those with respiratory issues can’t smoke flower – seniors in our community may not want to smoke flower. What were they going to do? Would they have to learn how to make tinctures and liquids from flower themselves? Would they have to go to the black market for the cannabis delivery method that is best for them? Those were some of the questions floating around when the conversation really started to heat up.
The ruling indicates that Arizona medical cannabis patients can purchase the amount of concentrates that equals 2.5 oz. of dry flower. Patients are permitted to purchase up to 2.5 oz. every 14 days. It takes more flower to produce concentrate.
How is this going to be calculated?
The state needs to come up with a standard saying something like “this much flower makes this much concentrate”, or something along those lines. The state has audited several concentrates companies already. Patients might have already noticed that some brands of concentrates are counting as more on their allotments.
Before, if you purchased a gram of concentrates (vape, edible, wax, shatter, etc.) it would have only been counted as a gram. Now, it might count as 2 or more grams.
As Allison Stein of Arizona Cannabis News reported, Tom Dean (legal counsel for Arizona NORML and criminal cannabis attorney), said, “All parts of the plant are covered by AMMA and concentrates allotments are supposed to be measured based on the 2.5 oz. of dry flower it takes to make them.”
Can you make your own concentrates – yes, there isn’t anything specifying that you can’t in AMMA. Learning how to make concentrates in a safe way that doesn’t leave residual chemicals and/or solvents behind can be tricky.
The New AZDHS Advisory Testing Board
When SB 1493 passed and became law, the state needed to start getting the wheels in motion to implement mandatory testing of all cannabis products. There’s a lot more to it than just determining what safe amounts of chemicals are and how much mold is too much. This also includes determining how much flower it actually takes to make different types of concentrates.
Different cannabis strains produce different concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes. Each has a volume that it produces. Kief and trim all have varying attributes too. This is why determining how much flower it takes to make concentrates and how they’d be counted on allotments is such a mess. There are too many variables.
While developing a standard method will solve part of the issue – it may also come down to the strain/s used too. So, the actual amount of concentrates on an allotment could vary just based on some of the factors mentioned above.
Think about this – patients are allowed 70 grams of usable medical cannabis every 14 days. It takes more flower to make a gram of concentrate. Some products can take a full ounce of flower to make a gram of concentrate (like RSO). So, if you’re allowed 70 grams of usable medical cannabis every 14 days and it takes a full ounce of flower to make one gram of a particular concentrate – that means you can get 2.5 grams of that concentrate every two weeks. Some patients use a gram or more of concentrates a day. It would leave many patients in crisis.
We don’t have any definitive answers yet, so it’s important to just keep calm, go with the flow and not allow the stress and anxiety of the maybes to cause you panic. All we have right now is possibilities, potential calculations and absolutely nothing definitive.
It’s great that it’s finally been ruled that concentrates are included in the definition of usable medical cannabis. It’s great that patients that rely on this cannabis delivery method to still have access. It’s great that things will be ironed out, hopefully before mandatory testing starts in November 2020. But, the unknowns still leave worry in the back of our minds – we can’t control that.