Ca Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Marijuana Possession, Cultivation Limits
January 21 - The California Supreme Court released its long-awaited ruling in People v. Kelly today.
As expected, the court struck down the so-called SB 420 quantity limits in Ca Health & Safety code 11362.77 as applied to patients' right to grow, but upheld their application for other purposes, e.g. as a "safe harbor" guideline for protecting patients from arrest.
"We conclude, consistently with the decision of the Court of Appeal below (and with the position of both parties in the present litigation), that insofar as section 11362.77 burdens a defense under the CUA to a criminal charge of possessing or cultivating marijuana, it impermissibly amends the CUA and in that respect is invalid under article II, section 10, subdivision (c). We also conclude, consistently with the views of both parties in the present litigation, that the Court of Appeal erred in concluding that section 11362.77 must be severed from the MMP and hence voided."
California NORML strongly advises Prop 215 patients to continue following the SB 420 guidelines – six mature or 12 immature plants and 8 ounces of processed marijuana except where local guidelines specify more.
The Kelly decision has been interpreted to imply that the limits no longer apply, and that patients can therefore grow as much as they want. But the Court’s decision lets the police arrest anyone who exceeds the guidelines. The only thing it disallows is for the guidelines to be used as a basis for conviction in criminal trials.
So, unless you don’t mind being arrested and dragged into court for a felony trial, where you will have to show that the amount of marijuana you had was consistent with your medical needs, the best rule of thumb is to follow the guidelines. The Kelly decision simply re-affirms the original intent of SB 420, which was to establish reasonable guidelines for arrest - not automatic limits for guilt.
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