May 2010: Medical Marijuana and Probation or Parole

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Being on probation or parole can be a very frustrating experience, as intimate details of your life are scrutinized closely by government officials. For probationers, this process starts with prosecutors and judges who seek to impose as a condition of probation that qualified patients may not use or possess marijuana while on probation.

In these cases, the courts of appeal have distinguished between patients who are on probation for offenses relating to marijuana (and other drug use) versus those whose underlying offense was not violent and did not involve the use of drugs or alcohol. For the former, appellate courts have generally upheld probation conditions restricting medical marijuana use on the theory that such conditions are reasonably related to the underlying offense, so they serve a legitimate rehabilitative purpose. By contrast, in People v. Tilehkooh, the court struck down a probation condition prohibiting medical marijuana generally due to its prohibition under federal law because the underlying offense had nothing to do with marijuana.

For parolees, the issue is more clear-cut. As of this writing, the California Department of Corrections has a policy that allows medical marijuana patients to use their medicine while on parole, so long as they provide their parole officer a copy of a state-issued medical marijuana identification card before obtaining possession of the marijuana. A printed copy of this policy, which you can give to your parole officer along with your ID card, can be found Here

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