California Law on the Medical Marijuana Program and Landmark Cases

In 2003, the Legislature enacted the Medical Marijuana Program (Health and Safety Code 11362.5 et seq.) (MMP). The MMP was passed in part to "clarify the scope of the application of the CUA and facilitate the prompt identification of qualified patients and their designated primary caregivers in order to avoid unnecessary arrest and prosecution of these individuals and provide needed guidance to law enforcement officers; ... promote uniform and consistent application of the act among the counties within the state ...... and enhance the access of patients and caregivers to medical marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects." (Stats. 2003, ch. 875, 1.) In order to do so, the MMP created a voluntary program for the issuance of identification cards to qualified patients and primary caregivers. ( 11362.71.) The MMP also "immunizes from prosecution a range of conduct ancillary to the provision of medical marijuana to qualified patients. " (People v. Mentch (2008) 45 Cal.4th 274, 290 (Mentch).) Section 11362.765 accords qualified patients, primary caregivers, and holders of valid identification cards, an affirmative defense to certain enumerated penal sanctions that would otherwise apply to transporting, processing, administering, or giving away marijuana to qualified persons for medical use. The MMP also provides a new affirmative defense to criminal liability for qualified patients, caregivers, and holders of valid identification cards who collectively or cooperatively cultivate marijuana. (Urziceanu, supra, 132 Cal.App.4th at pp. 785-786.) Section 11362.775 provides: "Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients and persons with identification cards, who associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570." The penal statutes referenced in section 11362.775 include possession of marijuana for sale ( 11359); maintaining a place for the sale, giving away, or use of marijuana ( 11366); making available premises for the manufacture, storage, or distribution of controlled substances ( 11366.5); and abatement of nuisance created by premises used for manufacture, storage, or distribution of controlled substances ( 11570). ( 11362.765, subd. (a).) In addition, the MMP quantifies the amount of marijuana a qualified patient may possess ( 11362.77), provides that employers need not accommodate the medical use of marijuana ( 11362.785), and identifies places and circumstances where medical use of marijuana is prohibited ( 11362.79). Section 11362.79 prohibits the use of medical marijuana in any place where smoking is prohibited by law, in or within 1,000 feet of a school, recreation center, or youth center, in a school bus, in a motor vehicle while it is being operated, and while operating a boat. Under the CUA, the proscription against possession of marijuana, in violation of Health & Safety Code section 11357 does not apply to a patient who possesses marijuana for personal medical purposes upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician. ( 11362.5, subd. (d).) The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was designed to clarify the CUA and facilitate its enforcement. (People v. Leal (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 829, 838 (Leal).) Under the MMP, a person who suffers from a "serious medical condition" may "register and receive an annually renewable identification card that, in turn, can be shown to a law enforcement officer who otherwise might arrest the program participant or his or her primary caregiver." (People v. Kelly (2010) 47 Cal.4th 1008, 1014 (Kelly).) In other words, the identification card identifies the holder as a person authorized to engage in the medical use of marijuana. ( 11362.71, subd. (d)(3).) Participation in the MMP's identification card system is voluntary. (Kelly, supra, 47 Cal.4th at p. 1014.) "Trial courts are granted great discretion in deciding whether or not to revoke probation." (People v. Kelly (2007) 154 Cal.App.4th 961, 965.) "A court may revoke probation 'if the interests of justice so require and the court, in its judgment, has reason to believe from the report of the probation officer or otherwise that the person has violated any of the conditions of his or her probation . . . .' . 'As the language of Penal Code section 1203.2 would suggest, the determination whether to . . . revoke probation is largely discretionary.' . 'The facts supporting revocation of probation may be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.' . However, the evidence must support a conclusion the probationer's conduct constituted a willful violation of the terms and conditions of probation. ." (People v. Galvan (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 978, 981-982; see Pen. Code, 1203.2, subd. (a).)