Key Medical Marijuana Decisions – People v. Galambos

Also see: Key Medical Marijuana Decisions by California Courts

People v. Galambos

Citation 104 Cal. App. 4th 1147, 128 Cal. Rptr. 2d 844 (2002)
PDF of Full Opinion https://www.canorml.org/legal/galambos.pdf
Fact Summary Following the passage of the Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”), the defendant began growing a crop of marijuana and agreed all the marijuana that the defendant grew would be designated for the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative for medical use. At trial, the defendant sought a jury instruction that marijuana could be legally provided under the CUA to patients through patients’ cooperatives or dispensaries. However, the trial court rejected the instruction
Summary Rule of Law The CUA does not offer a defense to those that provide marijuana to qualified patients through patients’ cooperatives or dispensaries. The CUA only sets forth two classes of persons qualified for the exception: patients and their primary caregivers, not suppliers to marijuana buyers’ cooperatives.
Facts & Procedure Following the passage of the Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”), the defendant began growing a crop of marijuana and executed a certificate with the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative “by which they agreed that all the marijuana that defendant grew would be designated for the Cooperative for medical use.” 104 Cal. App. 4th at 1154. Following an aerial overflight of the defendant’s crop, law enforcement obtained a search warrant. Id. Upon execution of the search warrant, the defendant was arrested and charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale. Id. At trial, the defendant “sought a jury instruction that marijuana could be legally provided under [the CUA] to patients ‘through [the patients’] . . . cooperatives or dispensaries.’” Id. at 1165 (alteration in original). However, the trial court rejected the instruction, “finding that [the CUA] did not support defendant’s assertion that he was the ‘primary caregiver’ of the Cooperative’s members . . . .” Id. at 1155. “Ultimately, the jury convicted defendant of marijuana cultivation . . . , but deadlocked on the second count of possession for sale . . . .” Id.
Issue(s) Does the CUA offer a defense to those that provide marijuana to qualified patients through patients’ cooperatives or dispensaries?
Holding(s) The CUA does not offer a defense to those that provide marijuana to qualified patients through patients’ cooperatives or dispensaries. 104 Cal. App. 4th at 1167. The defendant argues that the CUA’s protections to patients and caregivers implies an exception “for those who provide medicinal cannabis to patients and/or caregivers”, otherwise the operation of the statutory immunity would be impractical. Id. at 1165−66, 1168. The “defendant’s argument for extending the express exception created by [the CUA] flies in the face of the precise language of the [statute], the rules of statutory construction, and the ballot arguments.” Id. at 1169.

To begin, the CUA only sets forth “two classes of persons qualified for the exception: patients and their primary caregivers, not suppliers to marijuana buyers’ cooperatives.” Id. at 1167. “[E]ngrafting an additional implied exception onto a statute that establishes a carefully delineated exception would run afoul of the . . . rule of statutory construction, expressio unius est exclusio alterius . . . .” Id.

Second, an express purpose of the CUA is “[t]o encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.” Id. (citing the CUA). If the CUA implicitly provided an exception for marijuana buyers’ cooperatives, there would not be “any reason to encourage only the federal and state governments to implement a plan to distribute marijuana.” Id.

Last, “the Ballot Pamphlet for [the CUA] confirmed the intent of the voters not to legalize any activity beyond the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal medical use.” Id. (citations omitted). To illustrate, “proponents of the measure argued in the Ballot Pamphlet that it only allows possession and cultivation for personal use, not sales . . . .” Id. at 1168 (citations omitted). Overall, “the proponents’ ballot arguments reveal a delicate tightrope walk designed to induce voter approval, which we would upset were we to stretch the [CUA’s] limited immunity to cover that which its language does not.” Id. at 1152.

Discussion Galambos’s holding that the CUA does not offer a defense to those that provide marijuana to qualified patients through patients’ cooperatives or dispensaries has been repudiated by the Medical Marijuana Program Act (“MMPA”) and the subsequent court decisions ruling on the MMPA in light of the CUA. See, for example, People v. Baniani, 229 Cal. App. 4th 45, 59, 176 Cal. Rptr. 3d 764, 775 (2014):

“That the Legislature intended such a result is further evidenced by its subsequent enactment of section 11362.768. As noted above,

[Penal Code section 11362.768] implicitly recognizes the lawfulness of a ‘marijuana cooperative, collective, dispensary, operator, establishment or provider who possesses, cultivates, or distributes medical marijuana pursuant to’ the MMPA, and only prohibits such entities from operating ‘within a 600–foot radius of a school.’ . . . If such activities by patients and primary caregivers were unlawful altogether, there would be no need to enact a statute prohibiting such entities only within 600 feet of a school.”

Where the Galambos decision has continued vitality is its understanding of the scope of the CUA through its interpretation of Ballot Pamphlet arguments. A key quotable excerpt from the case for anti-marijuana proponents:

“To the contrary, the proponents’ ballot arguments reveal a delicate tightrope walk designed to induce voter approval, which we would upset were we to stretch the proposition’s limited immunity to cover that which its language does not.”

has been directly quoted by the Supreme Court of California in two major decisions limiting medical marijuana patient rights. See City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Ctr., Inc., 56 Cal. 4th 729, 746, 300 P.3d 494, 502 (2013) (“We endorsed the observation that ‘the proponents’ ballot arguments reveal a delicate tightrope walk designed to induce voter approval, which we would upset were we to stretch the proposition’s limited immunity to cover that which its language does not.’” (citing Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc., 42 Cal. 4th 920, 930 (2008)).

Also see: Key Medical Marijuana Decisions by California Courts

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