If there are two things you’ll almost never hear us praising it’s Prop 64 in California and the court system in this country but here we have a story that is so dripping with hilarious irony we’ve got to give props where due.
As you probably know, Prop 64 was approved by California voters back in November of 2016, and among (many) other things it made it perfectly legal for adults 21 years of age or older to possess up to one full ounce of dried cannabis flower.
Now, the law notoriously neglects to include crucial language protecting exactly where you can actually legally smoke the weed you legally possess and so common sense usually guides most cannabis users as to where it’s cool to spark up and where it’s not.
When five California inmates were convicted of cannabis possession while in prison, common sense would most likely tell you that they’re looking at an open and shut case and some form of added punishment heading their way. But the five fought back, arguing that under Prop 64 they are allowed to possess their ounce of herb. After all, they were never accused or convicted of ingesting it, only possessing it.
When the five inmates in question were denied relief from their convictions in the Sacramento State Court, they appealed and apparently found a sympathetic ear in Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye who may or may not give a shit about these particular inmates, but clearly had a strong understanding of the evolving state laws on cannabis.
Convicted under Penal Code section 4573 – originally written in 1949 – the court ruled that these cases should be tossed out, thereby setting an odd but cannabis-friendly precedent for all future cases. Justice Kaye, in a 20-page ruling, lambasted the prosecuting Attorney General for attempting to twist the already-crooked Prop 64 into something even worse than it is, writing that all of the DA’s antics fail to “undermine the will of the electorate”.
Kaye also notes that public sentiment has changed dramatically toward cannabis in the 70 years since Penal Code section 4573 was drafted, and that it may not be the prosecution’s best weapon in 2019 and beyond.
Examples of illegal acts under 4573 include:
· Physically bringing illegal drugs into a prison – whether as an inmate, visitor, or an employee
· Sending mail to an inmate containing illegal drugs
Some past legal defenses against convictions under this statute include showing that an accused party:
· Was authorized to bring a controlled substance (ie. prescription)
· Acted without knowledge (unwilling mule)
· Did not actually have a controlled substance (mistaken identification)
Mind you, cannabis possession is still prohibited by all California prison guidelines as far as we know, but they will no longer be able to forward those cases to prosecutors, instead keeping any punishment or consequences “in house”. Smoking or otherwise ingesting cannabis while in prison can still bring felony charges, as can smuggling it in.
Still, this is intriguing news even if it is technically an unintended loophole in the language of the law.
Even Justice Kaye admitted that the ruling may be “unwise” but that the Court “cannot ignore binding precedent and the plain language of a statute based on the intensity of the Attorney General’s passion to criminalize an act the electorate has decided no longer merits treatment as a felony.”
That’s what they call poetic justice right there... however...
Prop 64 is still fucked...
The legal market is still fucked....
...but this small victory is worth celebrating and watching the system bite itself in the ass is always amusing.