Medical Marijuana Patients can be Arrested when Carrying more than Medically Necessary

By: Wallin & Klarich

Medical marijuana patients and caregivers may possess only that amount of marijuana that is reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs – with or without a physician’s approval, according to a decision by the California Court of Appeals.

If you are facing charges of marijuana possession, it is important to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you with your case. The experienced drug crime attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can defend you against medical marijuana possession charges by arguing the marijuana was necessary for your medical needs.

Littlefield v. County of Humboldt


Recently, in Littlefield v. County of Humboldt (June 28, 2013) 218 Cal.App.4th 243, the Court held that the mere presentation of a medical marijuana recommendation from a physician does not completely immunize qualified users from arrest, seizure, or prosecution. In 1996, the California electorate approved Proposition 215, adopting the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (CUA).

As a part of the CUA, new California Health & Safety Code section 11362.5(d) provides that the prohibitions of sections 11357 and 11358, relating to the possession and cultivation of marijuana, do not apply to a patient, or to a patient’s primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient when based upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician. However, the CUA does not grant immunity from arrest or prosecution. Rather, it provides a qualified patient and his or her caregiver with no more than an affirmative defense.

Issue of Probable Cause

So long as the police have probable cause to believe that a marijuana violation is occurring, they may arrest a person for possession or cultivation despite a physician’s approval. The standard remains that which is “reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs.” In Littlefield v. County of Humboldt, the Court held that a doctor’s recommendation is one factor to consider in determining whether the amount of medical marijuana is reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs.

Call Wallin & Klarich

California medical marijuana laws are highly complex and can be difficult to understand without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Marijuana crimes can trigger punishment for violating both state and federal drug laws. The legal battle over medical marijuana will continue to persist but, for now, police will have the ability to use their own judgment in determining what is considered necessary for medical purposes when making an arrest.

If you are facing charges of marijuana possession or any drug-related crime, call the knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. We have over 30 years of experience successfully defending persons charged with marijuana possession and other drug crimes. Call Wallin & Klarich today at (888) 280-6839. We will be there when you call.

Posted In: Marijuana Offenses