Court ruling on cannabis an important victory

Oct 03, 2013

Editor:

The Washington State Court of Appeals announced on Thursday, Sept.19, of its 5-4 decision to allow people that choose cannabis to present a common law medical necessity defense along with the protections of the medical cannabis act.

This means that a new trial will have to begin if prosecutors on the case want any chance of a conviction on William Kurtz, a wheelchair bound medical cannabis patient with multiple sclerosis.

This was a huge win for the defense as it is extremely unlikely any jury would convict him at this point under the terms of this ruling.

He was originally found guilty in the 2010 trial, but only because the court stripped him of his right to assert medical defenses to the jury.

The decision was a huge win for patients in many ways and here is my opinion of it.  Read it for yourself and tell me if you disagree. ( http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/870781.pdf )

It was recognized that medical patients and their providers under the Medical Cannabis Act (RCW 69.51a) who are in compliance with the regulations have full criminal arrest, prosecution and asset forfeiture protection.

A state search warrant cannot be issued based on cannabis without evidence that the person is outside of the regulations of the Medical Cannabis Act.

Patients with a legitimate medical condition can assert a Common Law Medical Necessity defense if they have a legitimate medical condition and are outside of the regulations of the Medical Cannabis Act, similar to how patients under the Medical Cannabis Act were for years only protected by a very weak affirmative defense, meaning you will have to prove it in court.

The Common Law Medical Necessity defense is found to be consistent with constitutional, federal and state laws.

The State of Washington by vote of the people, by statutes passed by our state legislators and by the courts all find that cannabis does, in fact, have medical value, and its continued placement as a Schedule One Controlled Substance is only to satisfy politics, not reality.

That the benefits of personal cannabis cultivation for its legitimate medical use of cannabis outweighs all perceived harms to society.

The Common Law Medical Defense can be used for a much larger variety of medical uses than the small number protected under the Medical Cannabis Act. PTSD is the first that comes to mind.

That ANY attempt to remove these rights from patients or placing financial barriers on access by legislators and law enforcement will now be easily seen as purely political and financially motivated, not based in humanitarian compassion, a principle foundation upon which these laws exist.

In theory, this makes Washington State the world leader in medical cannabis laws designed to protect patients from arrest and prosecution without forcing people into a registered database, treating us like sex offenders.

Every state with a patient registry has been compromised and used to target individuals, even those in compliance with state laws.

Thank you William Kurtz and his legal representatives. And most especially, thank you Washington State Supreme Court for your historic 5-4 decision.  It is a big step in the right direction.

Patients and other concerned citizens must not let the state take us back in time and force large numbers of people or their providers to be dragged through the court system for growing their own medicine as nature intended.

John Novak

Lake Forest Park

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