(The AEGIS Alliance) – Inmates in prisons are not able to lawfully possess weed even with California’s regulation permitting recreational marijuana, according to a Thursday ruling by the state Supreme Court that overturned a lower courthouse that previously ruled inmates can possess the substance provided that they weren’t consuming it.
The justices stated the 2019 lower courthouse judgment making it possible for inmates to possess up to 1 oz, or 28.5 grams of pot violated sound judgment. The higher courthouse agreed with the state attorney general that found the state’s weed regulation authorized by electors didn’t apply to Californians serving time behind bars.
“It seems implausible” that the electors meant to basically legalize weed behind bars, Associate Justice Joshua Groban stated.
“We agree with the Attorney General that if the drafters had intended to so dramatically change the laws regarding cannabis in prison, we would expect them to have been more explicit about their goals,” Groban added.
In 1996, California ended up being the very first state to legalize medical pot, which additionally is prohibited in state penitentiaries. 20 years afterward, voters authorized Proposition 64 that established the world’s most extensive lawful recreational marijuana industry. Persons age 21 and older may lawfully have as much as an ounce of weed.
Cannabis is currently lawful in some way in greater than 30 states. But Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, mentioned he had not been aware of any sort of state that permits either recreational or even medical marijuana behind bars.
The case prior to the California Supreme Court emerged from the conviction of 5 males that had been located with weed in their prison cells. The District Court of Appeal located in Sacramento rescinded the convictions and ruled that even though state regulations make it unlawful to smoke or eat marijuana behind bars, it failed to particularly outlaw ownership.
Separate California appeals courts had concluded that possessing marijuana behind bars still was actually prohibited.
Groban pointed out in the 5-2 Supreme Court ruling that “While perhaps not illogical to distinguish between the possession and use of cannabis, it is nonetheless difficult to understand why the electorate would want to preclude laws criminalizing cannabis possession in prison, but permit laws criminalizing cannabis consumption in prison.”
Associate Justice Leondra Kruger partially dissented and concurred that the ballot measure didn’t authorize marijuana ownership in California’s penitentiaries and jails. However, she mentioned it left open the concern of if prosecutors can continue to submit charges the same way they could before, by deciding between what she said were two felony statutes that overlapped, one with stricter penalties than compared to the other.
Voters may have wanted to give a “limited measure of leniency” for prisoners caught with marijuana, she rationalized, even while not legalizing ownership in prisons. She additionally stated the court should not have resolved the legality concern whatsoever, based upon the method the appeal had been framed.
Justice Mariano-Florentino Cu éllar joined Kruger in dissenting agreement.
The lower courthouse stated corrections authorities still can prohibit ownership as a rules offense, just like they do for alcoholic drinks or tobacco, but not look for new felony charges that can include added years to inmates’ sentences.
“We are sympathetic to the view that (existing law) creates an extreme disparity between how our legal system treats the possession of cannabis generally versus the possession of such a substance inside a correctional facility. That is also true of many other substances, including alcohol,” Groban stated.
“Some may well view an eight-year prison sentence for the possession of less than one gram of cannabis (one gram is the approximate weight of a single paper clip or a quarter teaspoon of sugar) as unduly harsh,” Groban added. “The wisdom of those policy judgments, however, are not relevant to our interpretation of the statutory language.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.