Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Medical Marijuana Limits

A guide to the new ruling on medical marijuana.

Background of the Compassionate Use Act

In 1996, via the initiative process, the voters of CA approved Proposition 115, the Compassion Use Act (the "CUA") PC § 11362.5. The legislature, fearing abuse, passed a law restricting the amount of medical marijuana that a person with doctor authorization may have, limiting that amount to 8 ounces of the drug or 3 marijuana plants. On 1/21/10 the CA Supreme Court overturned the limits set by the legislature at PC § 11362.7 et seq. The case is titled People v Kelley Supreme Court Docket No S164830.

Why and What Does This Mean for Me?

The initiative process in CA amends the state constitution. The legislature itself cannot amend the state constitution. The law amending Prop 215 was an unlawful amendment by the legislature of the CUA. Hence the Court struck it down. What it means for you may invoke the law of unintended consequences as the Court noted that officers may stop anyone suspected using of marijuana to determine if they have authorization and whether the amount they possess may allow for criminal activities. Although the ruling would seem to be a further step in the legalization of marijuana it in fact broadens the powers of the police to search anyone suspected of having marijuana even if they have the proper authorization under the CUA.


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