ZAHEERA WAHID, Orange County Register,
A Laguna Beach man has been cleared of marijuana charges after new evidence revealed that he had a doctor's approval to use the drug, officials said Tuesday. An Orange County Superior Court judge Friday dismissed felony charges of cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale, said Susan Schroeder, spokeswoman for the county District Attorney's Office. 'I'm relieved that I don't have to go to trial,' said Ross Embry, 53, an HIV patient who said he uses marijuana to combat nausea caused by his medication.
Embry said he is considering suing the government to bring about change in the way the medicinal marijuana law, approved by voters in 1996 as Proposition 215, is applied. 'They put the populace in a Catch-22 situation and a quandary, and not only people who are arrested, but the police,' Embry said. 'There are a lot of people in this building that need it, and where do they get it? That's the flaw in the law. The reality is that it has nothing to do with the drug law; it has to do with compassionate use.' Embry, who lives at Hagan Place, a government-subsidized building for HIV patients, said he won't grow marijuana in his building anymore, but he does plan to reclaim his seized marijuana and donate it to an oncology department at a hospital. Embry will need a court order to retrieve the 25 pounds of marijuana Laguna Beach police seized from his apartment Sept. 17, police spokesman Jason Kravetz said. Schroeder said the case does not set any precedent. 'Our job is to do justice, and we will look at every case individually,' Schroeder said. 'And when we found exonerating evidence, we decided to drop the charges.'