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Marijuana prescription no defense in DUI case


Nevada Appeal, December 13, 2006


The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled a doctor's letter recommending medical marijuana is no defense in a DUI case.

George Peter Lynard was convicted of two counts of driving under the influence of a controlled substance causing the death of another person. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of up to 20 years each.

But the district court granted his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, finding his trial lawyer ineffective for not presenting in evidence that Lynard had a California prescription for medical marijuana.

The state appealed, arguing a letter from a California doctor recommending use of marijuana for a medical condition should not be allowed as a defense to Nevada DUI charges.

Justices Nancy Becker, Ron Parraguirre and James Hardesty agreed with Washoe district attorneys and reversed the district court decision.

They pointed out the letter from Lynard's doctor is not a valid California prescription for a controlled substance. And, in any event, they said, it isn't a valid out-of-state prescription.

They also pointed out there is no language in Nevada law which allows drivers who have valid prescriptions to drive while impaired.

"Thus, the fact that Lynard may have legally ingested marijuana in California before the accident was irrelevant to the DUI counts charged under an impairment theory," they wrote.