Supporters of Washington’s medical-marijuana law say yesterdays state Supreme Court ruling allowing police to arrest a patient or search his home is a major setback, reports the Seattle Times. The court said state law doesn’t protect those with a medical authorization from an arrest or search, and only allows them to present a medical-marijuana defense after the fact at a trial. The 8-1 ruling upheld the conviction of Jason Fry, arrested in 2004 for having 2 pounds of pot.
The justices said sheriff’s officers who smelled marijuana smoke at his home had probable cause to believe a crime was committed – even after Fry presented them with an authorization from his doctor. The new ruling was “a disaster for us,” said Steve Sarich of the patient-advocacy group CannaCare. He said, “It basically says that no matter what, they can arrest you at will, prosecute you at will, put you through the system, and cost you thousands in legal fees, even though they know you’re a legal patient. That’s just wrong. We are guilty until we can prove ourselves innocent.” In Seattle, it’s possible the ruling won’t stop any patients from using marijuana – but simply gives options to law enforcement that are unlikely to be used because voters passed a measure in 2003 making marijuana cases the lowest police priority.