Murphy v. Commonwealth (1999)

In Murphy v. Commonwealth, 31 Va. App. 70, 521 S.E.2d 301 (1999), the Court we held the legislature effected a more limited abrogation of the common law defense of necessity. 31 Va. App. at 75, 521 S.E.2d at 303. Murphy involved Virginia's statutes criminalizing the possession of marijuana but excepting marijuana possessed pursuant to a valid prescription for the treatment of cancer or glaucoma. Id. at 74, 521 S.E.2d at 302 (citing Code 18.2-251.1). Murphy asserted a necessity defense, claiming he possessed and used the marijuana found in his possession to alleviate debilitating migraine headaches. Id. at 73, 521 S.E.2d at 302. The Court held as follows: The legislative history of the statute manifests that the General Assembly has significantly limited the availability of the defense of necessity for individuals who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. In restricting the legitimate medicinal use of marijuana to cases involving cancer or glaucoma, the legislature evinced its intent to circumscribe the value judgment an individual can make with respect to its use for treating other conditions. To that extent, the common law defense of necessity is abrogated and unavailing in Murphy's case. Id. at 75, 521 S.E.2d at 303.