LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The California Supreme Court on Thursday rejected limits on medical marijuana imposed by state lawmakers, finding that people with prescriptions for pot can have and grow all they need for personal use.
The high court ruled lawmakers improperly “amended” the voter-approved law that decriminalized possession of marijuana for “seriously ill Californians” with a doctor’s prescription by limiting patients to eight ounces (227 grams) of dried marijuana and six mature or 12 immature plants.
The Compassionate Use Act, passed by California voters in 1996, set no limits on how much marijuana patients could possess or grow, stating only that it be for personal use.
In 1997, the state’s Supreme Court defined a lawful amount as enough to be “reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs.”
The state’s quantity limits were passed in 2003 as part of a voluntary identification card program designed to protect against both drug trafficking and wrongful arrest by allowing police to quickly verify a patient’s prescription.
The court on Thursday let stand the voluntary card program but found that the limits it imposes should not “burden” a person’s ability to argue under the Compassionate Use Act that the marijuana possessed or grown was for personal use.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a statement the decision “confirms our position that the state’s possession limits are legal” as applied to medical marijuana cardholders.
A lawyer for plaintiff Patrick Kevin Kelly could not be reached immediately for comment.
Kelly, who obtained a prescription for medical marijuana to alleviate a range of medical issues including hepatitis C, back problems and depression, did not register in the card program.
He was arrested in 2005 for growing marijuana plants and possessing 12 ounces of dried marijuana and was found guilty of marijuana cultivation and possession.
The case is People v. Kelly, Case No. S164830, California Supreme Court.