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California v. Mentch

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Mentch grows and sells marijuana for five medical marijuana patients. The police officers searched his residence and found evidence, which a jury found to be sufficient to convict Mentch of cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    To be a caregiver one must prove that he or she is (1) consistently providing caregiving, (2) independent of any assistance in taking medical marijuana, and (3) at or before the time he or she assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana.

    Facts.

    Roger Mentch’s house was searched by police officers. The officers found marijuana growing set ups, including 82 marijuana plants in the budding stage, 57 clone marijuana plants, 48 marijuana plants in the vegetative stage, and 3 mother plants. Mentch was arrested and charged with the cultivation of marijuana and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. Mentch told the officers that he had a recommendation to use medical marijuana and sold the marijuana to five medical marijuana patients. Subsequently, Mentch asserted the caregiver defense under Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11362.5 and called two of his patients to testify. The witnesses testified that Mentch was their exclusive supplier of marijuana, Mentch supplied them for a period of 2 to 3 years, and Mentch would take the patients to their doctor to assist with their medical conditions.

    Issue.

    Whether the Defendant, Mentch, is a primary caregiver to his five patients.

    Held.

    No, the Defendant, Mentch, is not a primary caregiver to his five patients.

    Discussion.

    To be a primary caregiver, one must be designated as a caregiver by the medicinal marijuana patient, and he or she must be a person who “has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of†the patient. Here, although Mentch alleges that he established a relationship with his patients by supplying them for multiple years and taking them to their doctor at times, Mentch is still not a primary caregiver. Mentch has not satisfied the responsibility clause because Mentch relies exclusively on the fact that he gave his patients marijuana and took them to their doctor’s appointments, which is not supported on the record.  The court noted that caregiving must be independent of providing marijuana to his patients. Because the assistance with the doctor’s appointments is not shown on the record, the court finds he is not a primary caregiver.


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