CHP Agrees to Abide by Prop. 215 - Numerous Other Prop. 215 Court Issues Outstanding

(Cal NORML Newsletter, Dec 2005)

In a major victory for patients, the California Highway Patrol announced that it will no longer confiscate medical marijuana during routine traffic stops. The move came in response to a lawsuit by Americans for Safe Access. ASA complained that CHP officers had seized medicine from scores of legal patients in disregard of Prop. 215. The CHP has said it will allow patients to transport up to eight ounces so long as they have proper medical documentation.

Another important Prop. 215 enforcement issue concerns the return of medicine wrongfully seized from legal patients. Scores of patients have complained about having their medicine seized, often without even being charged with an offense. In order to get their medicine back, they must seek a court order. In the wake of the Raich decision, some officials have objected to returning marijuana on the grounds that to do would violate federal law. The city of Garden Grove has filed an appeal of a court order mandating it to return a half ounce of marijuana to a patient named Felix Kha. ASA attorneys are fighting the appeal.

Another important unresolved issue is whether the weight and plant number limits established in SB 420 are legally binding. NORML contends that the SB 420 limits are an unconstitutional limitation on Prop. 215. California NORML attorney Bill Panzer has won a pair of superior court rulings in which judges have held that the quantity limits should be disregarded in determining a Prop. 215 defendant's guilt. Panzer has won a similar court ruling overruling another controversial provision in SB 420 that restricts caregivers to just one patient outside their own city or county. So far there have been no appellate court rulings on either issue.

The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear an employment discrimination case about drug testing for medical marijuana. The case involves Gary Ross, a patient who was denied employment by a Sacramento company, RagingWire Telecommunications, on account of a drug test. Rossą attorney, Stewart Katz, argued that refusal to accommodate medical marijuana waa discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The Third District Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that RagingWire was within its rights to dismiss Ross.

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