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LA Court Rules Medical Marijuana Patients Must Have Specified Dosage


Marijuana BottleThe Ruling is important mainly because of the words in the message.

In an unprecedented ruling, a Los Angeles court denied a motion by plaintiff & DPFCA member Susan Soares to return her medical marijuana on the grounds that her doctor had not specified a dosage amount or frequency in her recommendation. Soares, who was growing for a local collective, had her medicine seized by hostile police last March, and had petitioned the court for it to be returned after charges against her were dropped.

It is generally the practice of most medical cannabis specialists never to prescribe a dosage quantity. The California Medical Association recommends that physicians never do so, because no dosage guidelines for cannabis have ever been established. Effective dosage varies greatly according to the potency and delivery form of the medication. Patients regularly control their own dosage through self-titration.

In the court’s decision, Judge Antonio Barreto, Jr. declared that “as a matter of law” any recommendation that Soares’ doctor made that does “not involve frequency and dosage both is insufficient, period, and does not lead to any lawful possession of any amount of marijuana.” The judge mysteriously stated that his ruling was based on the Tripett decision. Soares had been growing for several patients, but the court declined to return even six plants for her own individual use.

Soares is seeking legal aid to appeal Barreto’s unprecedented decision.


– D. Gieringer, Cal NORML

Susan Soares wrote:

I was denied my motion to return yesterday based on People v. Trippett. The judge said that because my doctor didn’t give me dosages or frequency of use, that my rec was invalid and therefore he couldn’t even give me the SB420 limits back. My attorney then asked him to preserve the evidence until we have time to appeal and he refused. The case that he referred to was pre 215 and later the convictions were vacated when 215 passed! The DA and the cop started cheering. Now the cops are going to wrongly believe that there has to be dosages on people’s recs! What can I do?

Susan Soares


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  1. The judges behavior was more than questionable. He was really on my side the whole time until the last minute. He originally gave me an order to return. He gave me two “originals” and said the cops would give me a hard time and he wanted to know if they did. We had 3 days of testimony from my doctor over this matter. At one point, the DA said “and I’m going to call it dope because that’s what it is”. I’m not sure who got to Judge Burrito but someone did. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m suing 2 RBPD detectives.

  2. As the defendant/appellant in the Trippet case, the LA Judge’s conclusion is not consistent with the Trippet standard, which is whatever is “reasonably related” to the patient’s current medical need. It does not require anything as specific and risky for a doctor as a dosage. That would have to be determined through a legal process that was absent here.
    Without defining what was meant by “current” (monthly, yearly, or what?), the Courts have come to interpret current as referring to annual medical need, in order to conform to a once a year annual supply. This is an expansive interpretation, whereas the Judge’ ruling was restrictive, determined without due process and wrongly used a narrow prescription model instead of a flexible “reasonably related” model. pbs

  3. Kevin, right you are, it’s called a pro re nata or PRN prescription.

    I find it ever so amusing that the people who used to say “don’t like the law? get it changed” doing an about face and ignoring the law after it actually was changed. They were lying the entire time with not a clue that changing the law might actually occur.

    Ms. Soares should contact ASA if she hasn’t already. They’ve got a lot of experience in taking people like Judge Burrito out to the woodshed and teaching them a stiff lesson in following the law.

    Here’s the case ordering Garden Grove to return medicine after confiscation:


    City of Garden Grove v. Felix Kha, 157 Cal. App. 4th 355; 68 Cal. Rptr. 3d 656 (2007)
    This case was one of 4 times that California’s medicinal cannabis patient protection laws has gone to the SCOTUS. Isn’t it interesting that a law so many people swear is “trumped” by Federal law that the SCOTUS has refused 4 times to strike the law when they had the opportunity? Even a bit more intriguing that the SCOTUS wasn’t even interested in hearing the jack boots’ appeal 2 of those 4 time. No certiorari for you Mr. Prohibitionist!

  4. There are many medications that are issued with the instructions as “as needed up to X amount per day”. The same should apply with this.

  5. Assuming, as the judge did, that Trippett is controlling in this case, “The rule should be that the quantity possessed by the patient or the primary caregiver, and the form and manner in which it is possessed, should be reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs. What precisely are the “patient’s current medical needs” must, of course, remain a factual question to be determined by the trier of fact.”

    I’m not so sure that the judge was acting as a ‘trier of fact’ in this instance, since juries are normally the triers of facts in criminal proceedings. This was a civil filing to return medical cannabis after criminal charges were dropped, making the judge’s reliance on Trippett “unprecedented,” yes, but also legally questionable. Different set of facts entirely.

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