One issue with inconsistent state marijuana laws that courts will be forced to review the legality of conflicting regulations. Though Minnesota has recently passed a bill that legalizes marijuana for medical use, the state will now have to interpret how whether it will accept out of state prescriptions. An appeals court recently held that an individual who has a medical marijuana card that authorizes the use of pot in California cannot use that card in Minnesota. This creates some confusion for users and also raises the question of whether interstate regulatory systems are necessary.
According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Court of Appeals held that a card permitting marijuana use in another state cannot eliminate drug charges in Minnesota. Though the initial drug charges were filed prior to medical marijuana legalization, the legal issues could overlap in the future. Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients and in staying abreast of legislation and criminal liability involving drug-related charges. For California medical marijuana card holders, this case should serve as a warning to prevent out-of-state drug charges.
The defendant was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding when the officer allegedly smelled marijuana. The officers found two Mason jars containing marijuana and the driver was charged with possession of a controlled substance. A defense attorney tried to get the evidence suppressed, asserting that the search and seizure was unconstitutional. The defendant also argued that he had the right to show his medical marijuana card from California as evidence that his possession was legal for medical purposes. The argument was that the defendant had the legal right to grow and possess marijuana to prevent chronic pain.
Prosecutors argued that the California medical marijuana card was irrelevant and would only add confusion for a jury. The District Court agreed and found the card irrelevant and inadmissible. The court records indicate that the defendant was found guilty and was sent to jail. The Court of Appeals highlighted the fact that at the time of the arrest, Minnesota did not allow marijuana for medical use and that the courts had no reason to incorporate the California medical use card.
The case does raise the question of whether, under current Minnesota law, an out of state card or prescription renders the possession legal. The law was signed into law this year making medical marijuana legal and giving about 5,000 residents the right to seek treatment for pain associated with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and to treat symptoms of epilepsy. Under Minnesota law, the patients can use medical marijuana in pill or oil form with a health care provider’s prescription. Patients must also enroll in a registry.
In the current case, the user had pot hidden in the vehicle and had several other criminal charges on his record. His case would probably had the same result if arrested after the Minnesota bill was passed because he was a not a registered patient and he was smoking marijuana, rather than using a legal pill or oil form. Ultimately, the court did not suppress the evidence and ruled that the search was reasonable. The court also said that the District Court did not abuse discretion when excluding the testimony about the California medical marijuana card.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
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