Inmates in prison are not allowed to possess recreational marijuana while incarcerated, according to a new ruling by the California Supreme Court. The court overturned a lower court’s decision that held prisoners were allowed to have the drug, so long as they didn’t use it.
The case, California v. Raybon, involves five inmates in a California state prison who were convicted on felony charges after being found with marijuana in their cells. The men appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, which overturned their convictions after determining that while they could not legally eat or smoke pot in prison, possession of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense. As our Los Angeles marijuana defense lawyers can explain, this ruling conflicted with those of other appellate courts.
The state supreme court weighed in after a challenge from the state attorney general. In a split 5-2 ruling, the high court held that Prop 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in California, was not applicable to prison inmates. The majority opinion held that there as nothing in the ballot materials for the law that indicated voters had considered or were even aware of how this might impact possession of the drug in prison. The court stated, “it seems implausible that the voters intended to essentially decriminalize marijuana in prison.”
Had the public intended to alter the laws and policies regarding possession of cannabis in prison settings, they would have stated so explicitly, the court ruled. Further, it would make no sense that voters would wish to continue to criminalize the consumption of cannabis in prison, yet allow inmates to legally posses it. Continue reading