Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Author: Dave Brooks, Independent
Published: September 9, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Los Angeles Times
Contact: [email protected]
A Surf City man caught with a pound of pot in his truck had his conviction overturned recently after appeals court judges sided with the man who argued that he was eating the marijuana instead of selling it. The ruling could pave the way for a new legal precedent in the state, allowing those caught transporting a few ounces of pot to mount a defense under California's medical marijuana laws.
In September 2001, Shawn Wright, 41, was arrested after Huntington Beach police found a stash of marijuana wrapped in several small bags along with a scale, but no rolling papers, pipe or smoking device.
Orange County Judge James Stotler, who first heard the case, refused to allow Wright to mount a defense under the "Compassionate Use" laws, and eventually sentenced the man to a year in jail, only to free him after a few months.
On Aug. 31, Justices William Bedsworth and Eileen Moore of the Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, arguing that the jury should have been allowed to hear Wright's medical marijuana defense.
"Although he had over a pound of marijuana with him, he explained he needs relatively large quantities of the drug because he prefers to eat, rather than smoke it," one of the justices wrote in their opinion.
Wright said he used the marijuana to alleviate pain from a broken leg, a dislocated shoulder and a broken collarbone. Wright also said he experiences nausea, bloating and diarrhea after eating, which diminishes his appetite. He said marijuana eases his stomach discomfort and increases his appetite.
"He either bakes it into cookies or brownies, or stirs it into butter and uses it on things he eats," his lawyer Greg Schreiber said. "Ingesting it requires large quantities," that is why he had so much in his possession.
Justices Bedsworth and Moore argued that the jury should have been allowed to hear Schreiber's defense, however improbable it might sound.
"Worse defenses than this have been advanced, and much worse defenses have succeeded," the pair wrote in their opinion.
Related Articles & Web Site:
Medical Marijuana Information Links
Court Gives Weight To Weed Defense
Court of Appeal Throws Out Marijuana Conviction