CA Supreme Court Throws Out Medical Marijuana Limits

CANNABIS CULTURE – In a unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court has affirmed an appeals court ruling throwing out statewide limits on the possession and cultivation of medical marijuana.

Overruling the appeals court decision, the Court left in place a voluntary ID card program that protects patients from arrest, citing a similar ruling in San Diego NORML, supra 165 Cal.App.4th.

The Compassionate Use Act (CUA), passed as Prop. 215 by the voters in November 1996, contained no limits on the amount of marijuana a patient or caregiver may possess or cultivate. Courts have left open the “amount reasonably related to his or her medical needs.” However, the CUA protects patients against prosecution only, not arrest.

Under SB420, which set up the state MMP (Medical Marijuana Program), patients who voluntarily register for a state-issued ID card are protected against arrest. The court left the ID card program in place, while throwing out the 8-oz., 6 mature or 12 immature plant statewide limits. Those limits were overridden by several counties and cities across the state, as the law allowed.

The defendant, Patrick Kelly, who has hepatitis C, chronic back pain, and cirrhosis, was arrested in October of 2005 for possessing 12 ounces and cultivating 7 plants at his home in Lakewood, California. Kelly was convicted a year later by a jury, which concluded that he had exceeded the state-imposed limits. California’s Second Appellate District Court overturned Kelly’s conviction on the grounds that legislatively-imposed limits on possession and cultivation of medical marijuana are an unconstitutional restriction to a voter approved initiative.

Both parties in the case, Kelly and the State Attorney General, agreed that medical marijuana limits should be abolished as unconstitutional, and both agreed that the limits should be enforced for “those persons who voluntarily participate in the program by registering and obtaining ID cards.” But the court left the second question open. According to a press release from Americans for Safe Access, “Advocates remain concerned that without guidance on personal use amounts, police may abuse their discretion to arrest patients who are in compliance with the law.”

“This ruling reinforces the status quo,” said Dale Gieringer of California NORML. Gieringer interprets the ruling to mean patients will still have a “safe harbor” against arrest if they follow the stated guidelines, and can argue for any medically necessary amount in court.

The court affirmed this. “Whether or not a person entitled to register under the MMP elects to do so, that individual, so long as he or she meets the definition of a patient or primary caregiver under the CUA, 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 MPP.”



  1. Anonymous on

    All the patients have to do is tell the truth that weed is so weak it’s useless and you have to grow a whole bunch of it and extract the hash from it in order to obtain effective medicinal strength. Who the hell can get high off buds, cuz I damn sure can’t. It doesn’t matter how much you smoke either, you still don’t get any higher. You need hash to get adult strength medical relief. Bud is for casual users only, not medical patients or anyone who actually wants to get high.

  2. Anonymous on

    Yea theirs a big difference. When you get the script of xanax it says to take the medicine as directed on the bottle. and you’d be sick as fuck if you quit taking them. Also your only allowed to have 90 days worth of prescription. and you need to remember Cannabis is recommended not prescribed. So by law theirs some big differences.

  3. BamBam420 on

    Whats going on is nobody has been asking the right questions in all of this,It’s not how much a person can grow,consume, or what have you in a period of time.Anyone who has grown Cannabis know’s it can be frozen.who’s to say a person may not have several strains at a time just frozen,we all know if you stick to one strain to long it stops working as well, This is proven in all medicine they start you on a low dose and go up as needed.Nobody tell me if I have say Xanax and I did not take any for a couple months but kept filling the scripts, Then say a cop pulls me over finds 270 Xanax pills perscribed to me Would I get arrested? No I don’t think so,This is the same thing here is it not.It is all drama the socity needs it the media fuels it. There are states trying to sell it in liquer stores,That’s huge,now we leave the medical realm and enter the recreational realm,This will all be over soon folks,just don’t get caught till then.

  4. Green1UP on

    8 oz is a large amount in a week, that would require more than 12 plants to get 8 oz a week constantly!

  5. Anonymous on

    So this is only giving an affirmative defense against prosecution for any amount one can reasonably argue is for personal consumption? And it sounds like someone can still be arrested for exceeding the 8 oz 6 mature/ 12 immature. This is going to be very confusing to police, but it is a great relieve to know that the defense to exceeding the limit is stronger. Hopefully there is an issuance of new guidelines so that cops don’t get confused. Guidelines differ too much from locale to locale, so there needs to be some kind of change in policy. It’s good someone realized that the state can’t limit possession, after all I know patients who consume 8oz/week or more and have to drive three hours one way to find a good collective.