The Minnesota state Court of Appeals has ruled that a card that permits an individual to use medical marijuana in another state cannot escape a drug charge in Minnesota.
As reported by the Minnesota Star Tribune, in 2011, the defendant was stopped for speeding in Itasca County by a Minnesota state trooper. The officer spelled marijuana and thus found two mason jars containing the drug. The man then faced a fifth-degree charge of possession of a controlled substance.
Before his trial, the man tried to have the evidence against him suppressed on the grounds that the search was unconstitutional and that the officer had no reason to search him. The man also argued that he had the right to introduce his California marijuana card as evidence in his case. The card showed that he was permitted to have marijuana in his possession and use it for medical reasons in California. The card stated that he could grow 99 plants and possess 19 pounds of processed marijuana each year in order to control his pain from surgeries he had had in the past.
The prosecution argued that the card was not relevant evidence and would cause the jury to become confused.
The District Court then ruled that the card could not be permitted in court because it was irrelevant. This resulted in a guilty verdict, which led to a six month jail sentence in connection with the case.
The Court of Appeals reinforced this ruling by pointing out that Minnesota did not allow medical marijuana at the time the man was arrested and ruled that Minnesota did not need to consider California’s decision to allow the man to have a permit for medical use. The medical necessity defense wasn’t available in Minnesota.
While this case played out in court, the Legislature passed a new law that allows medical marijuana use. The law allows access to the drug for around 5,000 Minnesotans who have conditions that warrant the use of marijuana. These conditions include epilepsy, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
With the permission of a health care provider, those patients will enroll in a patient registry that will allow the Minnesota Department of Health to monitor their progress while on the drug. However, marijuana will only be allowed to be given for medical use in oil or pill form. Smoking will not be allowed and access to the marijuana plant will not be allowed.
The man in the medical marijuana case has a number of convictions in Minnesota, which include minor driving and drug offenses. Other than pain from surgeries, there is no information on when he lived in Florida and under what circumstances he obtained the card.
When he was pulled over by the trooper, the man denied that there were any drugs in his vehicle and he did pass field sobriety tests. When the trooper ran his driver’s license, it was found that the man had been stopped a number of months before and that the officer did notice the strong smell of marijuana at the time of the stop. A canine sniffing team was called in and that is when the two jars of marijuana were found in the door seam and under the hood.
The Appeals Court ruled that the search was reasonable.