Felony violations out but rules violations remain
—By, Alfred King, Journalism Guild Writer
Possessing small amounts of marijuana in a California prison is no longer a felony, a state appeals court has ruled.
The court ruling was based on Proposition 64, which legalized recreational use of marijuana in California. “Possession of less than one ounce of cannabis in prison or a similar penal institution is not a felony,” ruled the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Sacramento.
Prisons spokeswoman Vicky Waters released the following statement: “ We will evaluate the decision with an eye towards maintaining health and security within our institutions.”
Inmates are still banned from smoking or ingesting marijuana in state prisons, the California Department of Prisons and Rehabilitation has emphasized.
The court’s decision set aside the convictions of five inmates who had been convicted of weed possession inside prison, which led to more time being added to their sentences, NPR reported June 14.
“ We will evaluate the decision with an eye towards maintaining health and security within our institutions.”
“If you’re doing two years on a robbery, it does seem like a lot to have eight years added for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana,” attorney Dan Olsen told FOX 40 News Sacramento.
The appellate courts 20 page opinion was written by Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye. It said the Attorney General’s Office “Takes a huge leap” arguing that possessing small amounts of weed is legally banned in prison, despite plainly worded changes to California law. “The argument flies in the face of the plain language of the statue and common sense,” the ruling said.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office argued before the court that the new law was absurd and would legalize the use of a controlled substance in prisons and encourage drug smuggling.
Many in the legal community admit that the court’s ruling has caused some con- fusion, NPR reported.