Proposition 215 and subsequent court rulings

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Proposition 215 and subsequent court rulings

In 1996, Californians passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, which legalizes marijuana for medical use. It allows sick Californians to use marijuana, provided they first obtain a doctor’s recommendation, and also provides doctors with a legal defense against professional or legal sanctions for recommending marijuana use.

Because Proposition 215 puts California’s law in direct conflict with federal law, litigation remains an issue when an individual is charged with marijuana use or cultivation, even if he or she claims that it was done for medicinal purposes. This is why it is so important for an individual charged with participating in any activity that is related to medical marijuana use to contact an attorney who has experience with this area of the law and who knows how to successfully resolve all issues in his or her client’s favor.

Proposition 215 was enacted to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that use has been pre-approved by a doctor who has determined that the person’s health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief. It further provides that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medicinal purposes, upon the recommendation of a doctor, are not subject to criminal prosecution. The law was designed so patients in medical need of marijuana would have safe and affordable access to the drug.

Since the passage of Proposition 215, there have been two noteworthy court cases. The first was in 1998 when the U.S. government sued the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative in federal court for violating federal law. The Supreme Court eventually heard the case and unanimously overturned Proposition 215 in May of 2001. It should be noted that even though the law was overturned by the Court, it still exists and litigation still ensues. The second case was heard in 2003 when an Oakland resident was brought up on federal drug charges. Even though he was growing marijuana for the sick and had the legal authority from the city to do so, the federal judge ruled that Proposition 215 was not valid under federal law and, as a result, didn’t permit Prop. 215 into evidence. The jury found the defendant guilty, although once they learned about California’s law following the conclusion of the case, they demanded that the defendant be granted a new trial.

There is much debate about whether federal law should necessarily be supreme to individual state’s laws with respect to medical marijuana. There are several House members who are trying to pass bills that would force the federal government to recognize state laws relating to medical marijuana and that would amend federal law to allow state laws relating to medicinal marijuana to be raised in federal court cases.

When a legal conflict exists (such as this one between state and federal law), and a case goes before a judge – either state or federal – his or her ruling is based on his or her legal interpretation of the laws. This is why it is critical that an individual accused of illegal marijuana activity employs an aggressive and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who knows how effectively convey the interpretation that favors his or her client. The outstanding criminal attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm are devoted to protecting the rights of their clients with skill and integrity. They have mastered drug defense and are well equipped to successfully tackle any issues that comes their way. With law offices throughout California, including several in Los Angeles, they are conveniently located to assist anyone in need of an experienced drug crime attorney. For the most trusted legal advice and unparalleled representation, contact them today for a free consultation.