Using Medical Marijuana In California

Scott C Thomas Criminal Defense Attorney California Medical Marijuana DUI

It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear people say that because they have a physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana, or a Medical Marijuana Program Act ID card, they can smoke marijuana anywhere while doing anything…even while driving!  Before delving into the inaccuracies of the above statement, let me be crystal clear on one issue: possession of marijuana is illegal under Federal law and any advice rendered, applies only to California state law.

Before I explain where you can smoke medical marijuana legally in the state of California, perhaps it would be better to start by explaining where you cannot smoke medical marijuana.  Under California state law, you cannot smoke medical marijuana in any place where smoking is prohibited by law; in or within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school, recreation center, or youth center, unless the medical use occurs within a residence; on a school bus; while in a motor vehicle that is being operated; or while operating a boat.  That being said you are free to smoke in any place that is not listed above.

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Understanding Pretext Stops

Scott C Thomas Criminal Defense Attorney Pretext Stops
Ever watched an episode of Cops?  Ever notice how officers will post up outside a house known for drug sales, wait for a customer to drive away, then pull them over for a seemingly miniscule Vehicle Code violation?  What’s the first question the cop ALWAYS asks?  “Got any drugs in the car?”

This is what is known as a “pretext stop,” and according to the US Supreme Court in Whren v. United States and Arkansas v. Sullivan, an officer’s subjective intentions are irrelevant so long as there is probable cause, independent of those suspicions, to believe a crime, no matter how minute, has been committed.  Put another way, once lawfully pulled over, officers are free to investigate any potential unrelated criminal activity.  This was not always the case.  Until these relatively recent decisions came down, these types of tactics were deemed unconstitutional and viewed as a way for officers to circumvent the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.     

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