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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

5-Year-Old Arizonan|Gets His Medical Pot

PHOENIX (CN) - A 5-year-old boy with severe seizures may use medical marijuana extracts, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Friday.

Zander Welton's parents, Jacob and Jennifer Welton, sued Gov. Jan Brewer, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and the state's Department of Health Services in October for fear that they would be prosecuted for treating Zander's seizures with marijuana extracts.

Zander suffers from focal cortical dysplasia, a congenital condition that causes epilepsy and autism. After seeing the CNN documentary, "Weed," the Weltons were inspired to treat Zander's seizures with marijuana extracts, and after two months of use, his seizures had nearly stopped and he was able to run short distances and walk backwards.

Judge Katherine Cooper found the 2010 voter-approved Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) allows qualifying patients to legally use marijuana extracts, including CBD (cannabidiol) oil, which the Weltons give Zander.

"In applying the plain language of the statute to the rules of statutory interpretation, the court concludes that nothing in the statute limits the form in which patients may use medical marijuana. The AMMA applies equally to the plant and to CBD oil," Cooper wrote.

The Weltons claimed in their October complaint that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery advised Phoenix police that marijuana extracts "are considered a narcotic drug and they will prosecute as such."

Cooper found no evidence to support Montgomery's claim there is a prohibition in the AMMA against "concentrating the chemicals in the marijuana flower."

"Where? The Court finds no such 'prohibition' in the statute," Cooper wrote.

Defendant Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble took a similar stance with Montgomery, publishing a statement in August that qualified medical marijuana patients may be criminally prosecuted for "possessing a narcotic drug if the card holder or dispensary possesses resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus Cannabis or an edible containing resin extracted from any part of a plant of the genus Cannabis."

Cooper says it makes no sense to limit patients to one form of the drug.

"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," Cooper wrote.

Jennifer Welton said she was "thrilled" by Cooper's ruling.

"I am so relieved that we can give Zander the right form of this medication, the form that will provide him with the best benefit and help him have a fuller life," Welton said in a statement. "We hope this battle is over and that county officials will stop trying to keep Zander from his medicine."

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