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COMPASSIONATE USE ACT & MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Medical marijuana has taken an arduous journey through the California legal system. The state passed Proposition 215 in 1996, which decriminalized the use, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana under the Compassionate Use Act, granting immunity to qualified patients and primary caregivers. A qualified patient is someone who has the approval or recommendation of a physician to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. The Act also created an affirmative defense for qualified patients and caregivers. Case law has expanded those protections to include those charged with transportation. More recently, the law changed once again, making it an infraction (ticket) to be in possession of or transporting less than an ounce of marijuana, regardless of whether the marijuana is possessed for medical purposes or not.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAM ACT
In 2003, The California Legislature passed the Medical Marijuana Program Act. This act provided additional immunity from prosecution for medical marijuana users for violations of possession for sale and transportation of medical marijuana. The details of this act are explained in the California Health and Safety Code §11362.7-11362.83. →**add link here!** This act also indirectly allowed storefront dispensaries and medical cannabis delivery services because it granted immunity to associations of patients that operate collectively or cooperatively.
CANNABIS POSSESSION & USE FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES
The Medical Marijuana Program Act created safe harbor guidelines for the amounts of marijuana that a qualified patient can possess or that a primary caregiver is allowed to cultivate. According to the Health and Safety Code §11362.77, qualified patients and primary caregivers who carry a medical marijuana card can carry as much as 8 ounces of dried and processed marijuana. They are also allowed to have up to 6 mature marijuana plants or up to 12 immature marijuana plants. Local governments have the right to increase limits as they please. In Sonoma County, for example, patients are permitted to possess up to 3 pounds of processed bud or plant conversion and cultivate up to 30 plants within 100 square feet. Case law has determined that the amount that a medical marijuana patient can use is ultimately up to the patient if that amount possessed is reasonably related to the patient’s needs. This means that law enforcement cannot impose guidelines on a patient.
Presenting a medical marijuana defense is now a possibility in cases where a defendant has been charged with transportation. (People v. Wright (2006) 40 Cal.4th 81, 87–88 [51 Cal.Rptr.3d 80, 146 P.3d 531]: Medical Marijuana Program applies retroactively and defense may apply to transportation of marijuana; People v. Trippet (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1532, 1550 [66 Cal.Rptr.2d 559].) In addition, even when a medical marijuana recommendation is expired on it’s face, under the law, a qualified patient’s approval from a physician or physician’s recommendation does not expire for purposes of presenting a defense in court. (People v. Windus (2008) 165 CAl.App.4th 634.)
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MARIJUANA PROSECUTION
Unfortunately, all too often, law enforcement agents target people who use medical marijuana, even when those medicinal users are operating completely within the legal guidelines. Law Enforcement and the District Attorney still seem to be determined to prosecute these charges no matter how diligently citizens conform to the law and stand ready to present their documents. Unfortunately, valid medical marijuana recommendations are often simply ignored as is the current state of the law regarding the right to cultivate collectively. Without an attorney who is willing to vigorously fight for them in court, too often those accused of these crimes simply give up and feel they have no choice but to plead guilty to a crime despite their full efforts to cultivate marijuana legally.
If you have been questioned, detained, or arrested on medical marijuana charges, Wilber Law Offices wants to help you! Our medical marijuana attorneys have handled hundreds of these cases successfully, including getting felony charges reduced to misdemeanors or dismissed completely, minimizing lengths of probation, avoiding jail time for our clients, and prevailing at jury trial. We will aggressively advocate on your behalf to show that you are protected under the Medical Marijuana Program Act and the Compassionate Use Act.