Medical marijuana wins the day in court
December 02, 2007
The California Appeals Court has ordered Garden Grove police to return the marijuana it seized during a routine traffic stop to the owner.
The man Felix Kha, was stopped by police for running a stop sign in 2005 and when they asked him if he had any illegal drugs in his possession he admitted he had marijuana but stated it was for medical reasons.
The marijuana had been prescribed to him by a doctor for the treatment of chronic pain but despite being told this the police not only charged him with a traffic violation but also for possession of marijuana and confiscated the drug.
California state law allows the possession of prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes in amounts of less than eight ounces.
The case became a conflict between the upholding of the federal drugs law and the California state law which has taken three years to resolve.
The court ruled that enforcing of federal drug laws did not supersede the state's allowance of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Mr. Kha presented the doctor's prescription for the marijuana which was authenticated, and then permission was given for him to retrieve his marijuana from the police.
The Garden Grove Police Department refused to follow the court order to return the marijuana and took the case to the appeals court.
Last week a three-judge panel from the state's Fourth District Court of Appeals decided that the federal drugs law and the California state law are not in conflict and the federal law isn't broken by police returning the marijuana to the legal owner.
In court, Kha pleaded guilty to the traffic violation, and asked for his marijuana to be returned and his lawyer says it took three attempts to get the order.