Brief Fact Summary.
Defendant was puled over by an officer. The officer found 135.3 grams of marijuana. Defendant asserted a defense under the Compassionate Use Act. The trial court refused to instruct the jury on his defense and the jury found the Defendant guilty of transporting marijuana.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The Compassionate Use Act of California may provide a defense for transporting marijuana when the Defendant is being charged for possession and cultivation from criminal sanctions for qualifying patients, not transportation as defined as under section 11360.
A California Highway Patrol Officer, Rick La Groue, notice a green with an Oregon plate traveling in the opposite direction while on patrol. The car went to the right shoulder of the road and then returned onto the road. Officer La Groue drove toward the vehicle to investigate the matter. When he approached the vehicle, Officer La Groue notice Defendant was the sole occupant. Defendant stated he lived in Paynes Creeke California. The officer conducted a routine check on Defendant and asked Defendant if he had any drugs in the car. Defendant told him he had marijuana in a blue gift bag and handed it to the officer. The officer found a baggie of marijuana, a black container, rolling papers, a rolling device, matches, and sixteen burnt marijuana ends. Inside the black container, the officer found a smoking device, twenty-one hand rolled marijuana cigarettes, another burnt marijuana end, and small baggie containing marijuana. Further, the officer searched the vehicle and found another two gallon sized back with marijuana. Thereafter, Defendant handed Officer La Groue a â€œCalifornia Compassionate Use Act of 1996, Health & Safety Code Â§ 11362.5, Physician’s Statement,â€ which was Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya’s authorization to use no more than ten plants of cannabis. Prosecution changed Defendant with transportation of marijuana, a felony drug trafficking offense. Defendant alleged that he believed his transportation of marijuana was lawful under the Compassionate Use Act. However, the trial court refused to instruct the jury on this claim and the jury found Defendant guilty.
Whether the trial court erred in refraining from giving the jury instruction’s on Defendant’s defense under the Compassionate Use Act.
No, the trial court did not err because the defense is not applicable under the Compassionate Use Act.
In People v. Trippet, the court evaluated whether the transportation of marijuana under the Compassionate Use Act provided a defense to defendants. The court found that the Act does not exempt transportation of marijuana, even for medical purposes. Nevertheless, this court held that the voters of the legislation could not have intended that â€œa dying cancer patient’s â€˜primary care-giver’ could be subject to criminal sanctions for carrying otherwise legally cultivate and possessed marijuana down the hallway to the patients room. However, this court does not hold that all transportation is legal. Instead, the court must evaluate whether the quantity transported and the method, timing, and distance of the transportation are reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs. If the court concludes it is reasonably related, then the Defendant has an implied defense to the charge. In this case, the Compassionate Use Act does not provide a defense to the transportation of marijuana because the statute does not exempt transportation as defined in section 11360, the statute Defendant is being charged under.Â The Act only provides a defense to qualifying patients. Therefore, the trial court’s ruling is affirmed.