Archive for Monday, March 29, 2010

After ruling, felony pot cases getting tossed out of court

March 29, 2010

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— Police in a northern California town thought they had an open-and-shut case when they seized more than two pounds of marijuana from a couple’s home, even though doctors authorized the pair to use pot for medical purposes.

San Francisco police thought the same with a father and son team they suspected of abusing the state’s medical marijuana law by allegedly operating an illegal trafficking operation.

But both cases were tossed out along with many other marijuana possession cases in recent weeks because of a California Supreme Court ruling that has police, prosecutors and defense attorneys scrambling to make sense of a gray legal area: What is the maximum amount of cannabis a medical marijuana patient can possess?

No one can say for sure how many dismissals and acquittals have been prompted by the ruling, but the numbers are stacking up since the Supreme Court on Jan. 21 tossed out Patrick Kelly’s marijuana possession conviction.

The high court struck down a 7-year-old state law that imposed an 8-ounce limit on the amount of pot medical users of marijuana could possess. The court said patients are entitled to a “reasonable” amount of the drug to treat their ailments.

Law enforcement officials say the ruling has made the murky legal landscape of marijuana policy in California even more challenging to enforce.

Since California voters legalized medical marijuana in 1996, there has been tension between local law enforcement officials and federal authorities, who view marijuana as absolutely illegal.

That tension is expected to become even more pronounced if the state’s voters approve a November ballot measure legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“The way the law is now it puts law enforcement between a rock and a hard place,” said Martin J. Mayer, a lawyer who represents California State Sheriff’s Association, California Police Chief’s Association and California Peace Officers’ Association. “The measure, if it passes, will make it even more difficult. They just don’t like being in the middle.”

Prosecutors are backing away from some cases filed before the court ruling.

“Gray is not a good color for the law,” said Shasta County District Attorney Gerald Benito, who dismissed a case earlier this month and is considering dropping several more because of the ruling.

Benito cited the Supreme Court ruling in dropping charges on March 5 against James Bradley Hall, who was arrested in October and charged with growing 40 marijuana plants.

The next week, a San Francisco jury acquitted a father and son charged with growing three dozen plants. The lawyers for Thomas Chang, 62, and his son, Errol Chang, 30, based their defense on the Kelly case, arguing that the men needed that much pot to treat their medical conditions.

Comments

lawthing 5 years ago

Can you imagine what laughing stalks Kansas will be when they start prosecuting folks for posession of K2 incense?

Graczyk 5 years ago

8 ounces of pot is a lot of treatment.

Calliope877 5 years ago

Here's an idea! Don't arrest anyone with pot! Then they won't have to worry about their "felony" case getting tossed out of court. Go after the meth, crack, and heroin heads! You know, the drugs that really are a menace to society?

JustNoticed 5 years ago

Stocks, laughing stocks, not stalks, although the idea of laughing stalks is pretty funny.

Roadwarrior62 4 years, 7 months ago

A cop in Indiana ran over 3 of my brothers killing 1 and placing 2 in a bed or chair for the rest of their lives!!! The dui is getting tossed because his fellow officer buddies screwed up the ba test!!! Imagine that criminal cops who would of thought it lol!!! Anyway I say let us choose what we wish if we commit a crime against anyone then charge us!!! But at the same time if a sober person kills someone then he or she should have to pay the same price!!! At least the high drug deviant had an excuse!! He was high or drunk!!! The sober person was just plain ignorant period!!! How is that an excuse? I have been driving for the last 32 years without an accident!!! Its called defensive driving I dont want to take a life for being 5 minutes late!!! 5 minutes!!!! I drive a truck pulling heavey equpiment for road work!!! I keep a steady speed because of my weight and size!!! I watch all the cars driving like idiots switching lanes cutting people off and realize that the ones is such a hurry slow it down for everyone else. What I like best is seeing these same people a mile down the road stopped at a light while I cruise through holding my speed. If I happened to get stopped as well and the idiot was being an extreme case Ill say something to them and then add if u cause anyone to have an accident I will be a witness that will stop and help who ever they hurt!!! Sorry I turned this in to more than what I planned! What is K2 where did it come from and if it hurts peoples health I say please step in and help stop the problem. Legalize what God gave us so that people would not have to resort to new dangerous things!!! We have been doing things to relax and enjoy since the begining of time. People will always find a way to escape the real for a little change. There will be those that screw up from time to time but usually they dont need drugs to screw up its in their veins already! I believe the war on drugs helps only those doing collecting the money at both ends those that sell and smuggle and those that arrest and convict!!! Someone will always fill the void cant stop that!!!

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