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Washington State Supreme Court: Cannabis Defendants Can Argue Medical Necessity


washington state medical necessity defense marijuanaCourtesy of The Joint Blog

In a 5 to 4 vote, Washington State’s Supreme Court has ruled that individuals charged for cannabis can argue that they needed, and were in possession of the cannabis for medical purposes, and can be set free on “medical necessity”, even if they’ve never received a written authorization.

Justice Barbara Madsen wrote the majority opinion, stating that people who fail to follow the state’s medical cannabis law can nevertheless argue in court that they needed the cannabis for medical reasons. In order to do so, however, they must also show why complying with the state’s medical cannabis law wasn’t a viable alternative for them (financial issues may be one example of a reason, given the sometimes high-cost of receiving a medical cannabis recommendation for those whose primary physician may not be cannabis-friendly).

This ruling stems from a 2010 case where a man was found guilty of manufacturing and possession cannabis after police conducted a search warrant on his home. The man, William Kurtz, appealed the case, arguing that the court never allowed him to use medical necessity as a defense; the court claimed that such a defense no longer exists. The Supreme Court, with this new ruling, has overturned this claim, upholding “medical necessity” as a viable legal defense for cannabis defendants who don’t have a written recommendation, but use the substance medicinally.

The full ruling can be viewed by clicking here.

Source: TheJointBlog.Com


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Johnny Green


  1. Washington court decisions have been favorable to the defense of medical marijuana for some time. This was the decision of a sharply divided court so might not stand for all time; but, the trend continues. The 2011 amendment making medical use strictly legal is a huge change from prior law. Prior law made medical marijuana an affirmitave defense only; requiring proof by the user of qualfying need, and legal recommendation. The amendment puts the burden of proving the offense on the state at the front end and sends a message to law enforcement that they cannot arrest persons and seize property on speculation while hoping for a good result.

    The law is a creature of experience. The fact that the majority of the court sees medical necessity despite the schedule one state and federal classification of the drug suggests that the court concedes the validity of cannabis’ medical value.

  2. Why would you post shit like that? Posting racist comments isn’t gonna help the cause of stopping the war on drugs (marijuana). Keep racist BS to yourself or on a republican page that likes that type of BS.

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