Charges in a Medical Marijuana State Medical Cannabis State
Published September 2013
Even in states that have medical cannabis laws, patients and their providers may still find themselves in the legal system from uneducated or vindictive law enforcement and prosecutors, personal actions that are outside of the scope of the medical cannabis program, or for civil matters such as housing, employment, and/or child protective services.
If you are facing federal charges, please see the federal section. The states of Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington have expressly allowed for an affirmative defense, which means you can present the evidence of your medical use in court. Only Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Washington have specific statues for various civil protections.
For a quick reference of what is protected by your state law visit. In most medical cannabis states, if you were in compliance with state law and provider state by state your public defender or attorney can file a motion to dismiss the charges, this process is different for every state. See CA sample here. In many states patients have been successful in getting their property returned after their charges were dropped. See charges here.
No matter what state you live in the legal system can be intimidating and isolating. For general information about what to expect in the legal process, please read our “Demystifying the Legal System” ASA has created “how to defend medical cannabis patient” legal guides for CA, CO, and WA. Much of the information in these manuals applies to other states.
ASA keeps a database of law enforcement encounters from around the country for reports and to support our advocacy efforts. Whether you need support from ASA or not please consider filling out the above form.