The Facts About Earwax, Oils and Hash – Super Concentrated Marijuana, Its Legality and Safety

The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol otherwise widely known as THC. That is the stuff that gets a user high and provides a medicinal benefit to many which is why Michigan and 18 other states have legalized it in 2008. With the medical marijuana explosion in Michigan has come the increased production, distribution and use of super concentrated THC commonly known as hash, hash oil, or earwax (that is what it looks like).  It is made by collecting the resin, usually by shaking or brushing it from the leaves and buds of the plant, letting it dry and then compressing it.  The THC is extracted from the plant and made into a concentrated form. Just a drop or two of the concentrate is enough to create a powerful high. Does it fall under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA)? As of July 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals said yes under Sec. 8 but no on Sec 4 of the MMMA. Is it safer? Yes and no. Here are the facts.

Under the MMMA, qualifying patients can legally possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana for medical use.  According to Michigan Law, marijuana is legally defined as:

[all] parts of the plant Cannabis sativa, growing or not; the seed thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant or its seeds or resin.”

 The act defines Medical Use in relevant part as:

 [The] . . . possession, cultivation, manufacture, use . . . of marijuana . . . to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the debilitating medical condition.

The act further defines usable marijuana as:

The dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant.

In July of 2013 the Michigan  Court of Appeals ruled in People v. Curruthers that extracts are not a “mixture or preparation” as defined in the MMMA as “usable marijuana”.  Therefore, as Michigan law stands, edibles and extracts like oils and earwax are not medicine under Section 4 of the MMMA. Alternatively the Court ruled that they are legal under Section 8 which allows a person with a debilitating illness to have as much as necessary to treat the illness. In Section 8 the term “marijuana” is used and not “usable marijuana” Therefore, extracts, oils and edibles are lawful medicine under Section 8. A Section 8 defense will require a hearing on the issue and a higher burden to achieve, but the argument can be made. Section 4 protects card carrying patients and caregivers. So having a card alone will not serve as an immediate defense to arrest and prosecution. A section 8 hearing and defense will be necessary. The state of the law in this respect will change soon.