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Washington v. Shepard

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Mr. Shepard grew and maintained marijuana for his friend, Mr. Wilson, who was suffering from multiple illness.’ The police seized Mr. Shepard’s plants. Mr. Shepard indicated that he grows and maintains them for his friend who has an authorization from his physician to use medical marijuana. The trial court denied the validity of the authorization because the physician only indicated that the potential benefits of the medial use of marijuana may outweigh the health risks for this patient, which is an insufficient statement under the Act to qualify for its protections.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A valid documentation to recommend medical marijuana to a patient must have a reasonable probability, not a mere speculation, that the potential benefits of the medial use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for this patient.

    Facts.

    Mr. Shepard began growing marijuana for his friend, John Wilson, who suffers from varies conditions, including a debilitating spine condition and bipolar disorder. The debilitating spine condition hinders Mr. Wilson from growing and maintaining his own marijuana supply. Mr. Wilson is treated by Dr. Gregg Sharp, who provided Mr. Wilson with an “Authorization to Possess Marijuana for Medical Purposes in Washington State.â€Â  The authorization indicated that it was Dr. Sharp’s “medical opinion that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana may outweigh the health risks for this patient.†Judge Larry Kristianson refused to return the plants and held that Dr. Sharp’s statement in the authorization was inadequate to satisfy the Washington Initiative Measure No. 692 Act because it failed to set out the specific nature of Mr. Wilson’s medical condition and did not state that “the potential benefits o the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks.†The State charged Mr. Shepard with felony possession of marijuana.

    Issue.

    Whether a physician’s statement that “the potential benefits of the medial use of marijuana may outweigh the health risks for this patient†is sufficient to satisfy the “valid documentation†requirement of the Washington Initiative Measure No. 692 Act.

    Held.

    No, the physician’s statement that “the potential benefits of the medial use of marijuana may outweigh the health risks for this patient†does not satisfy the “valid documentation†requirement of the Washington Initiative Measure No. 692 Act.

    Discussion.

    The Act was enacted to allow patients with debilitating illness to use marijuana to remedy their illness once the physician has authorized its use. Likewise, the Act protects people who supply the marijuana to the patients when they act as primary caregivers to the patient. Here, the court finds that Mr. Wilson satisfied the requirement of a “qualifying patient,†however, he does not have a “valid documentation†by the physician. To have a valid documentation, Mr. Wilson must have “(1) a statement, (2) signed by a qualifying patient’s physician (or a cop of the qualifying patient’s pertinent medical records) which states, (3) that in the physician’s professional opinion, (4) the potential benefits of a medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for a particular qualifying patient.†Thus, the court noted it is not enough for a physician to stat that the potential benefits of the medial use of marijuana may outweigh the health risks for this patient. There must be a reasonable probability, not a mere speculation, that the benefits of the medial use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for this patient. Therefore, Mr. Shepard is not entitled to protection under the statute.



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