California Appeals Court Rules for Prison Cannabis

You can have it, you just can't use it

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(Image: Mike Dotta / Shutterstock.com)

SACRAMENTO – The California Court of Appeals, Third Appellate District, issued an opinion on Tuesday that effectively overturns the cases of five defendants convicted of possessing cannabis in prison, according to CourthouseNews.com.

However, the case for the defendants did concede that use of cannabis in prison remains a felony offense, as well as being prohibited by jurisdictions and prison facilities themselves.

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That’s because Goldy Raybon, Anthony L. Cooper, Dwayne Davis, Scott Wendell Haynes, and James Potter are currently all serving sentences for violation of Penal Code section 4573.6, which is possession of a controlled substance while incarcerated–but not for actually using the substance.

Their defense asserted possession of small amounts of cannabis is no longer a pursuant crime under legislation approved by voters in Proposition 64, which decriminalized cannabis for adult use in California, in 2016.

The defense also said the State Attorney General’s case used “arcane rules of statutory construction, twists the meaning of the words of the statute” and that it “urges us to disapprove of cases directly on point, and makes a host of policy arguments why we should not apply the plain language of the statute.” Penal Code section 4573.6 had first been enacted in 1949, they said, and has not been reconsidered in light of changing public attitudes and actual legislation, according to the defendants’ appeal.

Prosecutors, the defense said, continued to pursue their case, citing outdated laws meant to prohibit smuggling and contraband in prison, without consideration of current legislation and regulations that apply to medical marijuana patients, as well as possession statutes pertaining to legal recreational cannabis. Obsolete laws, when applied to Prop 64 legislation, the defense argued, would logically lead to an “absurd result.”

Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye issued the appeals court decision. Raybon v. California will now be remanded to a lower court for a decision on the appeal.

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