Supreme Court sends victory to medical marijuana patients
A recent unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court will cut the number of medical marijuana cases sent to trial and lower the degree of proof for defenders, attorneys say.
The ruling allows users of medical marijuana who are arrested on drug charges to file pretrial motions that could lead to dismissal of their cases.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys read the 31-page decision and came to their own conclusions.
“If we can resolve these closer cases in a court, it will not only be quicker but it will also be a much cheaper way to go as far as taxpayers are concerned,” said Gary Lacy, district attorney for El Dorado County. “It will also relieve prosecutors and defenders the rigors of going to a jury trial.”
In referring to “closer cases,” Lacy meant medical marijuana users and caregivers who are prosecuted for growing numerous plants deemed medically necessary or appropriate. He did not mean people who grow hundreds of plants and say it’s for pain relief.
Lacy said he supported the decision and called it reasonable.
The decision comes from “People vs. Myron Mower.” Mower, an ill diabetic using marijuana for relief of his symptoms, was convicted for possessing and cultivating the drug despite having a medical use certificate.
Erik Schlueter, facing a run-off election in November against Lacy for the El Dorado County district attorney position, reviewed the 31-page decision Friday and said it will affect how a jury looks at evidence.
“What it comes down to is I don’t think it’s going to change how much evidence the defense is going to present,” Schlueter said. “I think what it’s going to change is how stringently the jury is going to look at the evidence.”
Schlueter agreed with Lacy in that the decision was reasonable but wished it had gone further.
“I think a lot of people are going to wish (the court) touched on more but it didn’t,” he said. “They had the opportunity to touch on plants count. They did what the Supreme Court always does — is stay very limited on their decision.”
Simon Harvey, deputy public defender for El Dorado County, said the ruling will help clarify the 1996 Compassionate Use Act.
“In short, the Mower decision helps to ensure that the will of the people is implemented by making it much easier, and quicker, for legitimate medical users to show their innocence and by making it much harder for stubborn prosecutors to prove their guilt,” he said in a statement.
Matt Macosko described the decision as “tremendous.” Macosko describes himself as a caregiver of medicinal marijuana to the sick but prosecutors say he’s a drug dealer. His case, furnishing marijuana to minors, was pushed back in part for the Mower decision to conclude.
“It’s about time people start taking notice of the law,” he said. “Now I feel police should have a message and not go out and arrest people.
“It just seems like people are trying to break this law up and make this work,” he added.
— Contact William Ferchland at (530) 542-8014 or