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.