Health

Medical Marijuana Adocates Get Landmark Victory in California

| by ASA

People v. Colvin affirms that dispensing collective members are not required to help cultivate their medication

LOS ANGELES --- In a major victory for medical marijuana patients, the California Supreme Court denied review yesterday of an important dispensary case out of Los Angeles. Rejecting calls from State Attorney General Kamala Harris and law enforcement to review the Court of Appeal ruling in People v. Colvin, the California Supreme Court upheld certain protections for medical marijuana patients and providers.

The Attorney General had argued that some undefined percentage of patients were legally required to participate in the operation of the medical marijuana dispensaries in order to obtain medication from them.

The landmark ruling in Colvin held that the Attorney General's argument that member-patients must engage in unspecified "united action or participation" to qualify for protection under the state's medical marijuana law would likely "limit drastically the size of medical marijuana establishments," and provide "little direction or guidance to, among others, qualified patients, primary caregivers, law enforcement, and trial courts."

Furthermore, the Colvin Court held that the Attorney General's requirement would "contravene the intent of [state law] by limiting patients' access to medical marijuana."

The Court of Appeal also held in People v. Colvin that, "collectives and cooperatives may cultivate and transport marijuana in aggregate amounts tied to its membership numbers." In addition, the Colvin decision affirmed that possession of extracted or concentrated forms of medical marijuana was legal under state law.

"The decision not to review People v. Colvin should now put to rest this unfounded notion that patients must 'till the soil' or somehow participate in the production of the medicine they purchase at a dispensary," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization. "This landmark case also affirms the right of patients to purchase extracted or concentrated forms of medical marijuana and the right to transport medication from an off-site cultivate site."

A number of medical marijuana dispensary cases were granted review by the California Supreme Court earlier this year, including Pack v. City of Long Beach, Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center, and City of Lake Forest v. Evergreen Holistic Collective.

The Pack case addresses issues of federal preemption, which have already come before the High Court, whereas the Riverside and Lake Forest cases address the issue of whether localities have a right to permanently ban dispensaries.

"The Colvin decision has far-reaching, positive implications for medical marijuana patients and providers," continued Elford. ASA is currently appealing the conviction of Jovan Jackson, a San Diego dispensary operator who was tried in September 2010 and denied a medical marijuana defense. "The Colvin decision is bad news for the Attorney General, who was relying on the same argument in the Jackson case." There are also other trial court cases that will invariably be affected by the Supreme Court's decision not to review the Colvin case.

Further information:
Landmark Court of Appeal decision in People v. Colvin: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/People_v_Colvin.pdf

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