Thursday, January 21, 2010
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
SAN FRANCISCO -- A unanimous California Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law that sought to impose limits on the amount of marijuana a medical patient can legally possess.
The California Supreme Court ruled that state lawmakers were wrong to change provisions of the voter-approved Proposition 215. The 1996 measure allowed for patients with a doctor's recommendation to possess an unspecified amount of marijuana.
The legislature, seeking to give law enforcement guidance on when to make marijuana possession arrests, mandated in 2003 that each patient could have a maximum of 8 ounces of dried marijuana.
The high court said only voters can change amendments that they've added to California's constitution through the initiative process. The ruling by Chief Justice Ron George left in place the portion of the new law that protects patients possessing a state-issue medical marijuana identification card from arrest. George did note, though, that police were still authorized to make arrests if they believe the cards to be forgeries or reasonably suspects a crime has been committed.
Left open to interpretation: What amount of marijuana is for legitimate personal medical consumption and how much constitutes illegal trafficking?
''The California Supreme Court did the right thing by abolishing limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation,'' said Joe Elford, the top lawyer for the marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. ''At the same time, the Court may have left too much discretion to law enforcement in deciding what are reasonable amounts of medicine for patients to possess and cultivate.''
The Supreme Court's decision upholds a lower court ruling that tossed out the conviction of Patrick Kelly, a Southern California man who was arrested for possession of 12 ounces of dried marijuana and seven plants. A ''confidential informant'' called Lakewood Police to report Kelly's possession in October 2005.