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Arizona Republicans Decline To Clarify Legality Of Medical Marijuana Edibles

The Arizona House of Representatives has declined to clarify if marijuana edibles are legal under the 2010 voter initiative that legalized medical marijuana in the state.

Current law allows those with certain medical conditions to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, wanted to specifically add the word “edible” to the law so patients have options beyond smoking the plant:

"Frequently children are using the medicinal purpose of this marijuana for seizures or CBD for their seizure disorder,” he said. “And it would be easier for them to get the medication if we allowed the edibles, very clearly made it clear that edibles are legal."

The proposal fell one vote short. Opponents say marijuana edibles that look like candy or desserts are dangerous because they appeal to young children.

And Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, said she is concerned that there’s not an immediate effect with edibles.

"So some people take it and then take another one because after the first response they don't get a response,'' she said. "And then they're starting to overdose on those also.''

But Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, said legislative action is necessary — and soon.

"People are buying these marijuana derivatives, the concentrates and the edibles legally, and paying taxes, but in certain counties in Arizona they're being arrested for these things that they bought legally,''  she said.

This comes as the Arizona Supreme Court is hearing a lawsuit about medical marijuana edibles, liquids and oils. Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Benjamin Kreutzberg recently argued that when voters approved medical marijuana they only intended to legalize the leaves and flower of the marijuana plant — not other forms.

Claire Caulfield was a reporter and Morning Edition producer at KJZZ from 2015 to 2019.