Hash, Kief, Tinctures and Other Concentrates of Marijuana Might Not be Legal Under Medical-Marijuana Law

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

One thing to add about our blog post today on the raid of Arizona Cannabis Society:

Phoenix police say they intend to submit charges on some of the people involved, including charges related to the production of concentrated marijuana.

That brings up the thorny question of whether such concentrates are legal under Arizona's 2010 Medical Marijuana Act. The answer will become more important in a few months, with the opening of medical-pot dispensaries that plan on selling these type of products.

Many marijuana "edibles," for example, are made first by preparing concentrate that is then infused into food products. Pot-loaded foods, liquid tinctures, kief -- a powder made from the crystals of marijuana buds -- and hash all allow patients to opt out of smoking marijuana to obtain its benefits.

On one hand, the '10 state law defines "usable marijuana" as pot plants, plus "any mixture or preparation thereof."

But a much older statute illogically defines "cannabis" as the resin extracted from marijuana plants. And it deems "cannabis" as a narcotic, for which a person can be charged more severely than for plain, old marijuana.

Possessing a "narcotic" is a Class Four felony under Arizona law; selling it is a Class Two felony.

The "narcotic" label seems like a holdover from the Reefer Madness days. Whether hash or buds -- it's all just pot, nothing more. (UPDATE: In further researching this issue, we found that hash may retain some of the butane used in a butane-based manufacturing process. Obviously, that can't be good for you.)

By weight, concentrates do contain more of the active ingredient in marijuana, THC. But pot's effects don't increase exponentially with increased dosage; the concentrates are also just as safe as unconcentrated pot, in that a harmful overdose is essentially impossible. If anyone's ever died from drinking too much tincture or eating too much hash, it would be news to us.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has reportedly charged some state-qualified patients or caregivers with the "narcotics" violation because of possession or manufacture of concentrates, says attorney Tom Dean. However, Dean says he's not handling that case -- involving people tied to the Phoenix-based Soccer Moms Tinctures -- and doesn't know all the details.

If a defendant wasn't acting in accordance with the 2010 marijuana law, authorities may consider lumping in the "narcotics" charge on top of other charges, he says.

That would leave unanswered the overall question of whether prosecutors would charge otherwise law-abiding patients, caregivers or dispensaries with possession of a "narcotic" like kief or hash.

Dean wrote an essay about the extraction of concentrated pot just last week.

Another local lawyer, W. Michael Walz, tells New Times that the Maricopa County Attorney's Office's Drug Enforcement Bureau is still researching the issue.

Jerry Cobb, spokesman for County Attorney Bill Montgomery, says he'll check into it and get back to us.

Last month, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced that dispensaries should not sell hash, kief or edibles made from concentrates. But the city soon rescinded that order.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.