SB420 Limits Ruled Unconstitutional
Los Angeles, May 22, 2008: The Second District of California Court of Appeals ruled that the state limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation established under state law SB 420 are unconstitutional.
In the case People v. Patrick Kelly, the court overturned defendant’s conviction for possessing 12 ounces of dried marijuana plants on the grounds that the prosecutor had improperly argued that the defendant was guilty because he possessed more than the 8-ounce limit established in Health & Safety Code Sec. 11362.77 and did not have a doctor’s recommendation authorizing more.
The Court validated the long-standing view of California NORML and other Prop 215 advocates that the SB 420 limits are unconstitutional. Cal NORML attorneys have successfully argued the point in several lower court cases, but this is the first time it has been addressed by an appellate court.
In a 3-0 decision, the court ruled: “The prosecutor’s argument was improper. It was improper because the CUA [Compassionate Use Act] can only be amended with voters’ approval. Voters, however, did not approve the eight-ounce limit and other caps in section 11362.77 [of SB420]; hence, section 11362.77 unconstitutionally amends the CUA.” The decision is certified for partial publication, pending possible appeal to the Supreme Court.
So now what are the limits for medical marijuana cardholders in California? The Compassionate Use Act doesn’t say a thing about plant or medicine limits. Are the limits established by counties, like Mendocino’s 25-plant limit, still valid? What about counties that haven’t set any limits and instead relied on the now-unconstitutional six-plant / eight-ounce SB 420 limits?
Check out our podcasts from this upcoming weekend at the Aspen Legal Seminar. I’ll see if I can corral a few California lawyers to see what they think about this situation…