State of California Medical Cannabis Rulings

People v. Trippet

(1997): The ruling applies retroactively to persons fitting the medical use requirements who were charged before the statute was put into effect.

People v. Rigo

(1999): A person arrested for possession or cultivation of cannabis before obtaining a recommendation from a physician for the medical use of cannabis may not use this defense retroactively if a physician's recommendation is obtained after the arrest, unless there is a spectacular explanation.

People v. Young

(2001): In a ruling in direct conflict with the above People v. Trippet ruling, the court ruled that the Compassionate Use Act does not protect transportation of medical cannabis.

People v. Fisher

(2002): Law enforcement officers are not required to abandon a search for marijuana authorized by a search warrant when a resident of the premises produces documents that suggest he has a physician's permission to possess the cannabis.

People v. Mower

(2002): This unanimous CA Supreme Court ruling declared that patients and their care providers are entitled to a pre-trial hearing to determine the legitimacy of their medical cannabis defense. If this is established through a preponderance of evidence, the case should be dismissed before going to trial.

People v. Jones

(2003): This CA Appellate Court ruling holds that a defendant's testimony, confirming an "approval" or "recommendation" by a doctor to use medical marijuana, is sufficient, without verification from the doctor, to establish for a jury the defendant.s status as a medical marijuana patient.

People v. Tilehkooh

(2003): This ruling criticizes the decision in People v. Bianco (2001) which held that it is within the trial court's discretion to impose a probation condition prohibiting all marijuana use for the offense of marijuana cultivation where defendant was a long-time marijuana user and his marijuana use was found to have contributed to his offense.

People v. Konow

(2004): The California Supreme Court held that a defendant may "informally suggest" that the magistrate or superior court dismiss the information or complaint "in the interests of justice." Counsel may do this at any time, even as early as the arraignment, or in connection with a demurrer to the complaint, when the evidentiary foundation is laid through the submission of the doctor's recommendation.

People v. Urziceanu

(2005): The Third District Court of Appeal issued a positive decision affirming the legality of collectives and cooperatives, and held that SB 420, otherwise referred to as the Medical Marijuana Program Act, provides for a defense to marijuana distribution for collectives and cooperatives.

People v. Wright

(2006): The California Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) specifically provides an affirmative defense to the crime of transporting marijuana to a qualified patient or a person with a state identification card who transports or processes marijuana for his or her own personal medical use.

People v. Mentch

(2008): After several courts of appeal very narrowly construed what is meant by a "primary caregiver," the California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal and held that one does not qualify as a "primary caregiver" simply by furnishing marijuana to a qualified patient.

People v. Strasburg

(2007): On March 22, 2007, the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District issued a published decision in People v. Strasburg, holding that the Compassionate Use Act does not provide immunity from an otherwise justifiable search, such as when an officer smells marijuana.

Garden Grove v. Superior Court

(2007): In a 41-page published decision that strongly affirms the right of medical marijuana patients to possess their medicine without law enforcement harassment, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District required trial courts to order the return of medical marijuana that was improperly seized by the police.

People v. Chakos

(2007): The Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District reversed appellant's convictions for possessing six ounces of marijuana for distribution based on the "expert" testimony of a police officer that a scale, baggies, and small sum of cash evidenced marijuana distribution.

People v. Hua

(2008): The Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District found that the police violated the defendant's right against unreasonable searches and seizures when they entered his home without a warrant based only on their observation that someone inside was smoking marijuana.

People v. Windus

(2008): The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that the trial court improperly denied a medical marijuana defense to the defendant. The court held that the defendant's medical marijuana recommendation did not expire, even though the doctor who issued it required yearly evaluations.

People v. Phomphakdy

(2008): The Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District (Sacramento) held that the quantities of marijuana specified in the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) constitute an unconstitutional legislative amendment of a voter-approved initiative.

People v. Moret

(2009): The Court of Appeal affirmed a superior court order denying a man convicted of a firearm offense from using medical marijuana as a condition of probation because he obtained his doctor's recommendation after his conviction.

People v. Kelly

(2010): The California Supreme Court issued a unanimous published decision in People v. Kelly, striking down what it considered unconstitutional legislative limits on how much medical marijuana patients can possess and cultivate.

People v. Colvin

(2012):  The Court of Appeal held that medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives that comply with certain rules and guidelines may operate as legitimate storefront dispensaries.  More generally, the Court ruled that efforts of patients organized into collectives and cooperatives were not limited to cultivation only.  Instead, the defenses apply to other scenarios necessary to operate a collective or cooperative, like transportation.

People v. Jackson

(2012):  Under the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA), the requirement that members of a medical marijuana collective “collectively associate to cultivate marijuana” need not include active participation by all members in the cultivation process but may be limited to financial support by way of marijuana purchases from the organization. 

People v. Leal

(2012): The Court of Appeal ruled that a trial court has inherent authority and discretion to consider limiting or banning a probationer's use of medical marijuana, and Compassionate Use Act (CUA) use must bow to such restrictions for a patient who is a probationer.

People v. Baniani

(2014):  The Court of Appeal ruled that the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) provides a defense when a defendant shows that members of the collective or cooperative: (1) are qualified patients who have been prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes, (2) collectively associate to cultivate marijuana, and (3) are not engaged in a profit-making enterprise.

People v. Orlosky

(2015):  Evidence of formally organized collective was not required for collective marijuana cultivation defense to be applicable in trial for marijuana possession and cultivation, where two qualified patients were engaging in informal cultivation arrangement to grow and share marijuana only among themselves for medical purposes with no distribution to outsiders; application of defense to informal collective cultivation activity was consistent with overall statutory goal of ensuring that qualified persons had access to marijuana for medical use.

Civil

Lungren v. Peron

(1997): This case holds that the Compassionate Use Act does not provide a defense for selling marijuana or possessing marijuana for sale. However, bona fide primary caregivers may receive reimbursement for their actual expense of cultivating and furnishing cannabis for the patient.s approved medical treatment.

Bearman v. Superior Court of Los Angeles

(2004): The California Superior Court refused to review an appellate decision blocking the California Medical Board from searching the medical records of Dr. David Bearman and his patient who he prescribed medical marijuana for. The doctor was being investigated for negligence in prescribing marijuana for the patient.

Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications

(2008): On January 24, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued a published decision denying qualified medical marijuana patients any remedy for being terminated from their employment for testing positive for marijuana for using their medicine off-duty.

San Diego v. NORML, et al.

(2008): In 2006, the Counties of San Diego and San Bernardino challenged California's medical marijuana laws as preempted by federal law. In a published decision, the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District held that federal law does not preempt the state medical marijuana card program, nor does it constitute an unconstitutional amendment of Proposition 215.

City of Claremont v. Kruse

(2009): In this published decision, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed a preliminary and permanent injunction against a medical marijuana dispensary as a nuisance because it had not obtained a business license.

Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim

(2010): This case presented the questions of whether SB420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act, forbids California municipalities from banning medical marijuana dispensaries, and whether federal law preempts local dispensary laws.

Conejo Wellness Center, Inc. v. City of Agoura Hills

(2013):  The Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) do not create a “right” to cultivate, distribute, or otherwise obtain medical marijuana collectively, nor does it authorize medical marijuana collectives or dispensaries.

City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc.

(2013):  The California Supreme Court ruled that Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) does not grant a “right” of convenient access to marijuana for medicinal use or override the zoning, licensing, and police powers of local jurisdictions; or mandate local accommodation of medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives, or dispensaries.

The Kind and Compassionate v. City of Long Beach

(2016):  The Court of Appeal ruled that the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) have no effect on the federal enforceability of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in California.


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