Calif. Court Gives More Protection to Medical
Join Together News Summary,
November 29, 2006
People found by police to be carrying even
seemingly large amounts of marijuana can defend
themselves in court by claiming that they are
medical-marijuana users, the California Supreme
Court has ruled.
Los Angeles Times reported Nov. 28 that the high
court ruled 6-1 that the state's medical-marijuana
law shields patients from being prosecuted on
drug-transportation charges if they can prove that
the amount of marijuana being carried was consistent
with their personal medical needs.
The ruling stemmed from a case where a man was
found carrying more than a pound of marijuana in his
truck, along with baggies and an electronic scale.
The man, Shaun Eric Wright, was charged with
transporting marijuana with intent to sell, but at
trial he got a doctor to testify that he had
recommended medical use of marijuana for Wright.
Wright's doctor said he needed a large amount of
marijuana because he preferred to eat it rather than
smoke it. The trial judge said that the amount of
marijuana involved was too large to be covered by
the medical-marijuana law. But the Supreme Court
ruled that the judge should have instructed the jury
about the medical-marijuana defense.
However, the high court did not overturn Wright's
conviction, saying that the jury still could have
convicted him of a misdemeanor if they believed he
was guilty only of possession. Instead, jurors
decided that Wright intended to sell the drugs.
The Supreme Court ruling "expands the defenses
that can be used for medical marijuana," said
Maureen J. Shanahan, Wright's attorney. The
California Attorney General's office said the
clarification by the court about the scope of the
medical-marijuana law would be helpful.