Last updated on: 6/4/2008 4:37:00 PM PST
What Are Some of the Legal Consequences That Medical Marijuana Patients Could Face?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Americans for Safe Access stated in its website section titled "Resources for Attorneys" (accessed July 31, 2006):

"Despite the passage of the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) in 1996, and the implementation of state senate legislation SB 420 in January 2004, patient arrests and medicine seizure by law enforcement is still a widespread problem in California... Often, patients and caregivers end up in court defending themselves against malicious prosecutors and frivolous charges...

Discrimination against patients in both pre-employment and on-the-job situations is unfortunately common in California...

Discrimination occurs commonly against patients seeking to rent as well as those already renting that come under threat of eviction. This is a serious situation that can cause patients great difficulty in finding a place to live where they can also cultivate, possess and use their medication...

The DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] is another entity that has been found to unfairly discriminate against patients, [for instance,] a Sacramento patient who, after a routine traffic stop, was referred to the DMV by the police officer that stopped her [because of her medical marijuana]. She was quickly notified of a requirement to retake her driving test due to 'drug addiction,' though no evidence of addiction existed. After agreeing to take her driving test again, the DMV failed her and revoked her license. ASA appealed the revocation, taking the DMV to task for its arbitrary and capricious action... In January 2006, [her] license was reinstated as a result of the appeal."

July 31, 2006 - Americans for Safe Access (ASA) 

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) stated on its website (accessed July 31, 2006):

"Although an increasing number of states are enacting statutes permitting seriously ill people to use marijuana legally for medicinal purposes, the majority of states still provide no legitimate access to marijuana for medical use. In states where affirmative rights to use marijuana for medicinal purposes have not been enacted, individuals may still be prosecuted for growing, possessing or using marijuana for treatment of their medical condition."

July 31, 2006 - National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) 

Kevin B. Zeese, JD, President of Common Sense for Drug Policy, wrote in an editorial published on AlterNet on Feb. 9, 2003:

"The medical marijuana issue has highlighted how extreme the drug warriors are willing to be. They are willing to allow the seriously ill suffer -- even die -- because they use marijuana, a medicine they deem illegal.

Ever since California passed Proposition 215 in 1996 the federal government has done its best to thwart the law and undermine the democratic vote. Civil and criminal actions [arrests] have been taken against individuals, doctors have been threatened, and state legislators have been ignored."

Feb. 9, 2003 - Kevin B. Zeese, JD 

Richard Beada, JD, criminal defense attorney and founder of the Law Offices of Richard J. Beada, wrote the following to on Feb. 25, 2002:

"Although some State laws allow the use of medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, under Federal law it is still possible to be criminally prosecuted for possession of even a small amount of marijuana and even with a doctor's recommendation.

21 United States Code section 844 (a) makes possession of any amount of a controlled substance a crime. 21 USC Section 812,schedule 1, (c)(10) lists marijuana as a controlled substance. 21 USC Section 844 (a) provides for a punishment of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine or both for possession (of any amount) of such a controlled substance.

As a practical matter, however, it remains fairly uncommon in many federal jurisdictions for federal prosecutors to charge an individual with possession of a small amount of marijuana. Such cases are usually relegated to State Court prosecutors, where a medical marijuana defense may or may not be available. The practice of Federal prosecutors to not indict simple possession of marijuana cases is a policy decision, grounded more in the efficient use of limited prosecutorial resources than in any recognition from the justice department that medical marijuana should be a national trend. As such it is a policy that could quickly change and such prosecutions resumed."

Feb. 25, 2002 - Richard Beada, JD