California’s Supreme Court issued its long awaited opinion today regarding the constitutionality of state-imposed limits regarding the amount of marijuana patients may legally possess and grow.
In it’s 53-page decision, the Court unanimously ruled that the state’s guidelines, enacted in 2004, should not preclude patients from receiving legal protections in court if they possess cannabis in quantities above those recommended under state law (six mature or twelve immature plants and/or eight ounces) or county law.
The People v. Patrick K. Kelly in the Supreme Court of California
[excerpt] “Whether or not a person entitled to register under the [2004 state law] elects to do so, that individual, so long as he or she meets the definition of a patient or primary caregiver under the CUA (Compassionate Use Act of 1996), retains all the rights afforded by the CUA. Thus, such a person may assert, as a defense in court, that he or she possessed or cultivated an amount of marijuana reasonably related to meet his or her current medical needs … without reference to the specific quantitative limitations specified by the [2004 state law.]“
In short, the Court affirmed that the state’s guidelines in no way override the sweeping legal protections provided under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. As long as a patient possess quantities of cannabis that are “related to meet his or her current medical needs,” then they are legally protected under state law — regardless of whether or not these quantities are in accordance with state-imposed or locally-imposed guidelines.
In a separate legal issue before the Court, justices further ruled that provisions enacted by the Legislature allowing for counties to establish a voluntary identification system for legally recognized patients did not infringe upon the intent of the 1996 voter-approved initiative.
So precisely what does this decision mean for California patients and providers? Aaron Smith provides an excellent summation here. The bottom line: patients in California have a legal right to possess and use marijuana in the way that is in best accordance with their medical treatment, as decided by the patient and his or her doctor — not by state or local legislators.