Pot Card Can't Stop Searches, Court Says


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California's medical marijuana law doesn't protect card-carrying patients from being stopped and searched by police who detect the presence of the drug, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 1996 initiative legalizing medical marijuana, Proposition 215, shields patients only from being convicted of growing or possessing cannabis for their health, and does not prevent officers from conducting their usual investigation when they have evidence of a crime, said the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

The 3-0 ruling upheld a Sonoma County man's conviction for possessing about a pound and a half of marijuana that a Napa County sheriff's deputy found in an October 2005 car search.

The deputy said he approached a car in a Calistoga parking lot, smelled marijuana and spoke to Gabriel Strasburg, who admitted he had been smoking pot but said he had a medical marijuana card. The deputy refused to look at the document, which actually was a recommendation from Strasburg's doctor rather than the patient-identification card authorized by a recent state law, and instead searched the car.

The court noted that the amount of marijuana in the vehicle far exceeded the eight ounces that a patient can legally possess under post-Prop. 215 legislation. Strasburg pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and was placed on probation.

In upholding the search, the appellate panel cited a 2002 California Supreme Court ruling that said medical marijuana patients were not immune from arrest but could use their status as grounds for dismissal of charges or as a defense at trial. That means they are also subject to searches, the appeals court said.

"The overall circumstances justified the deputy sheriff's search of the car to determine if more marijuana was present,'' Presiding Justice James Marchiano said. If a medical marijuana card were enough to stop a search, he said, "every qualified patient would be free to ... deal marijuana from his car with complete freedom from any reasonable search.''

Strasburg's lawyer, Jeffrey Glick, said he would probably appeal to the state Supreme Court. He said the ruling interpreted Prop. 215 too narrowly and provided little protection for patients who have a legal right to possess marijuana.

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle/ SFGate.com
Author: Bob Egelko
Contact: begelko@sfchronicle.com
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Website: SF Gate: News and Information for the San Francisco Bay Area
I understand he had over th 8oz that he could have and that an officer can search the car but can they confiscate the mj if it is within the leagal limit?
(No they cannot confinscate anything within the legal amounts)But some will anyway.

In my opinion he was abusing his right to have a half a # of pot. He had a whole pound and is giving the whole system a bad rap by fighting it. He was in the wrong and should have took his PROBATION like a man and shut the hell up.I mean comon. Probation for having a pound of Pot and he wants to fight it?

In my opinion.............8 oz is plenty of MJ to have in your pocket at any one time. Double that amount and your asking for trouble. Not to mention...............he was smoking it in his car which tipped off the cop.

Its his own fault. (and no I am not a cop lover) In fact, just the opposite.
In this case, probable cause was he stupidity by smoking in the car.

I know there are rogue cops who make it their business to hassle people. But I would think most have more important things to do than look for people to stop and search.

My friends were stopped with clones on their way home from the club. I guess the cop was cool, he looked at their recs, checked the county limit, and sent them on their way. They weren't smoking or being blatant about carrying plants, though. They just happened to get rear-ended.

The cops say some people and some cars are just asking to be pulled over.

Don't smoke in the car. Don't carry over 8 ounces (why do you need more for personal use?), and maintain a low profile.

Here's a card I picked up at one of the clubs, I think it's great advice.


This is the card I carry in my wallet, provided by SafeAccessNow.org. I hope this will be helpful.

Medical Marijuana Patients, Be smart! Many arrest for cannabis possessions are due to traffic violations and noise complaints.
*Travel safety: Do not smoke and drive. If you travel with cannabis, make sure your vehicle is up to code and cannabis is concealed, preferable in your trunk. (I have heard cops say that some cars are just asking to be pulled over)

*Be a good neighbor: Loud music and domestic disputes can lead law enforcement to your home.

* Be discreet: Try not to smoke where others can see you and never
leave cannabis items in plain view. (put that stash away!!)

Search Warrants

DO NOT let an officer into your home without a search warrant. Check the address, the date (reasonably recent), and a judge's signature.

If law enforcement knocks on your door, step outside and close the door behind you while you find out why they are there. Don't leave the door open.

If they do enter your home with or without a search warrant say "I do not consent to a search".

There are three levels of police interactions and safe ways to handle each encounter:
Casual conversation- Ask if you are being detained. If not, walk away.

Detention - If you are being detained, ask why! Make them cite the law (and remember what they say!)

Arrest- say I choose to remain silent and I want to see a lawyer". Remember to remain silent.

Do not consent to a search- If the cops say: Do you mind if we look in your purse, bag, home, or car? You say "I do not consent to a search."

When cops say: "Why not? Are you hiding something?". You say: I believe in my Constitutional right to privacy, and I do not consent to a search.:

Note: This probably will not stop an officer from searching you, but it can help get any evidence thrown out in court.
Peace and happy trails
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