CannabisNews420.com – Cannabis/Marijuana Industry News

According
to a new ruling from a California appeals court,  prison inmates who possess small amounts of
marijuana are not guilty of a felony crime. According to NPR, the court ruled
that because marijuana is legal in the state, it can’t be a felony in prison.

The
ruling from a panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Sacramento
overturns the convictions of five inmates who had been found guilty of
possessing marijuana.”The plain language of Proposition 64 is clear,”
said the court. “[P]ossession of less than one ounce of cannabis in prison
or a similar penal institution is not a felony.”

In
response to the ruling, the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation emphasized that inmates are still banned from smoking or
ingesting marijuana in its prisons.

“While the
court’s decision is still under review, we want to be clear that drug use and
sales within state prisons remains prohibited,” said CDCR Press Secretary
Vicky Waters. She added that the agency will “evaluate this decision with
an eye towards maintaining health and security within our institutions.”

Despite
their conclusion that possessing cannabis does not constitute a felony, the
court said prison authorities could still ban marijuana possession “to
maintain order and safety in the prisons and other penal institutions.”

As
noted by NPR, the mixed decision was met with confusion among both prosecutors
and criminal defense attorneys, even as some acknowledged that it is a step
toward adjusting criminal law to reflect recreational marijuana’s legal status
in California.

“If you’re doing two years
on a robbery, it does seem like a lot to have eight years added for possession
of less than an ounce of marijuana,” defense attorney Dan Olsen told
Sacramento’s Fox 40 TV news.

In the 20-page opinion written by
Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye, the appeals court said Attorney General Xavier
Becerra’s office “takes a huge leap” in arguing that possessing small
amounts of marijuana is legally banned in prison, despite the sweeping and
plainly stated changes to California’s drug laws.

“The
argument flies in the face of the plain language of the statute and common
sense,” Raye wrote.

The justices noted the
unambiguous language of the state’s marijuana law — which maintains bans on
using the substance under certain circumstances. They also agreed with the
defendants’ contention that while smoking and/or ingesting cannabis in prison
is specifically prohibited, the law leaves the door open to other methods of
using cannabis. Those methods, they added, could include vaping or applying
topical oils.

The attorney general’s
office had argued that the law resulted in an “absurdity” that would
essentially legalize the use of a controlled substance in prisons and encourage
drug smuggling.

But disagreeing with a
drug policy decision isn’t enough of a reason to declare a law to be absurd,
the court said.

“The question of
law we review … is whether the plain language of the statute leads to an
absurd result. We conclude it does not,” Raye wrote. “A result is not
absurd because the outcome may be unwise.”

Becerra’s office has not yet said
whether it plans to appeal the ruling, The Associated Press
reports
.

The appeals court also
suggested that new legislation, or even a new referendum, could ease some of
the confusion over marijuana policies in California prisons.

“The remedy for
clearly written language that achieves a dubious policy outcome is not judicial
intervention but correction by the people or the Legislature,” Raye wrote.

The post California Court Rules Possessing Marijuana in Prison is Not a Felony appeared first on TheJointBlog.



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