California Supreme Court: State’s Marijuana Possession Limits Are A Floor, Not A Ceiling

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 21, 2010

    California’s Supreme Court issued its long awaited opinion today regarding the constitutionality of state-imposed limits regarding the amount of marijuana patients may legally possess and grow.

    In it’s 53-page decision, the Court unanimously ruled that the state’s guidelines, enacted in 2004, should not preclude patients from receiving legal protections in court if they possess cannabis in quantities above those recommended under state law (six mature or twelve immature plants and/or eight ounces) or county law.

    The People v. Patrick K. Kelly in the Supreme Court of California

    [excerpt] “Whether or not a person entitled to register under the [2004 state law] elects to do so, that individual, so long as he or she meets the definition of a patient or primary caregiver under the CUA (Compassionate Use Act of 1996), retains all the rights afforded by the CUA. Thus, such a person may assert, as a defense in court, that he or she possessed or cultivated an amount of marijuana reasonably related to meet his or her current medical needs … without reference to the specific quantitative limitations specified by the [2004 state law.]

    In short, the Court affirmed that the state’s guidelines in no way override the sweeping legal protections provided under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. As long as a patient possess quantities of cannabis that are “related to meet his or her current medical needs,” then they are legally protected under state law — regardless of whether or not these quantities are in accordance with state-imposed or locally-imposed guidelines.

    In a separate legal issue before the Court, justices further ruled that provisions enacted by the Legislature allowing for counties to establish a voluntary identification system for legally recognized patients did not infringe upon the intent of the 1996 voter-approved initiative.

    So precisely what does this decision mean for California patients and providers? Aaron Smith provides an excellent summation here. The bottom line: patients in California have a legal right to possess and use marijuana in the way that is in best accordance with their medical treatment, as decided by the patient and his or her doctor — not by state or local legislators.

    37 responses to “California Supreme Court: State’s Marijuana Possession Limits Are A Floor, Not A Ceiling”

    1. Karen says:

      When is legislature going to begin the process in other states such as South Carolina. I am a person who suffers from Fibromyalgia and it defiantly helps with the pain and discomfort of this condition.
      Now that I have had it 25 years I wish they would get real about the whole RX controversy. Big Drug companies pay lobbyists top dollar to rush some of their garbage through FDA trials so they can make money off of people like me with blatant disregard for our safety.
      I could begin a list of everything from pain medications to anti depressants to yes even birth control. Alcohol is more addictive than marijuana I guess legislators don’t want to give up the 5 martini lunch on our dime yet. Still alcohol cost billions in rehabilitation and lives lost and family grief. Take the rose colored glasses off Washington. We are regular taxpayers not stoned just for fun. Legal regulation for sale and distribution would cheapen the DEA bill and also cut down some of the violence. Not to mention your child would than need an ID to purchase it so that will not be happening on school grounds anymore as long as responsible adults lock it up. Who am I kidding most children are stoned on pills from the medicine chest in the bathroom these days.

    2. makaveli says:

      I choose to not get a card, just having a docs note. Looks like the recent ruling still helps me a bit 🙂

    3. claygooding says:

      With the removal of limits,a patient or caregiver can grow enough in natures grow cycle to provide for a 1 year supply. By using the sun and outdoors to grow in,
      a patient or caregiver reduces the expense and time consuming labor involved with growing indoors.
      Many more patients will be able to grow their own,because they could not afford all the equipment required to grow.

    4. DB says:

      That’s just how it should be!

    5. Ben says:

      I believe that Marijuana should be legalized for all Us citizens (18 and older); whether or not they have an under-lying medical problem that allows them to posses and ingest marijuana. Every person who decides at a legal age of 18 that they wish to indulge in marijuana then, they should be able to do so without consequence. I say 18 because that’s the age where the state and federal government already recognizes a citizen as an adult. No more selective legality. All legal US citizens, at least 18 yrs of age, should be allowed to smoke or ingest marijuana whether or not they posses medical needs for it. The notion that marijuana was banned in the first place is sickening. The government wanted to criminalize marijuana because oil companies and plastic companies knew that weed could be used to redesign and replace their existing products causing the “big Oil Companies” to go bankrupt and they couldn’t have that. So, in turn, the head companies with the most influence and money paid off the government and convinced them that marijuana is as bad as doing heroin. Eh!, wrong! weed is no where near the dangerousness or addictiveness as a controlled substance like heroin or methamphetamine. legalize, not legal lies. Bring back legalized marijuana!! our economy and constituent citizens will thank you.

    6. Mike says:

      WOW what great news

    7. Cali. said it first . We’re tired of listening to the lies that spew forth out of D.A.T. NORML is doing an excellent job by continuing to bring us these news stories & i urge your support of NORML .
      In other news i just signed a contract
      with Jeremy F. Lacy of :
      ” Cameo Entertainment Group ” a World – wide radio station based out of Massachusetts in which i will be delivering the TRUTH about marijuana to ( i think they said ) 3.4 million listeners Worldwide . I will have the power to change how the World thinks about Marijuana .

      I ask for your support and listenership . With it ,

      WE WILL AT LAST DEFEAT THE GREAT SATAN with his many lies and deceptions. & free all those in Prison & those who are prosecuted & executed by simple Marijuana crimes . Prosecuting anyone for a gift given by God ( Marijuana ) is truly the work of the Devil .

      More to follow later .

    8. HighMtnSkier says:

      Hopefully this will help NJ with the 2 ounces per month limit on our new law.

    9. makaveli says:

      marijuana helps me to eat, and allayed me of my chronic alcohol problem. All the talk and propaganda and the simple fact that one product is legal and the other is not fed my mind to think that somehow MJ would damage my mind more than alcohol could. Whereas I became to develop physical and mental sickness, and it would botch up whole days, being worn out by drinking. But I ingest a little MJ and am completely capable going about my day, and no hangover or withdrawal. Actually I feel recharged and renewed.

    10. medpatient805 says:

      it is about time. i am tired of my local sheriffs, the most corrupt in the world, the san luis obispo county sheriffs,the same ones who put charlie lynch in jail, telling me they dont think i should be a medical marijuana patient. leave it to our doctors please