California /

California Supreme Court Rules on Cannabis for Prison Inmates

The 5-2 majority ruled prisoners cannot possess marijuana


Prison inmates can not carry marijuana on them while incarcerated, ruled the California Supreme Court.

The 5-2 ruling overturned an appellate court panel in 2019 that permitted inmates to carry up to 28 grams, or one ounce, of marijuana. They were allowed to have it on their person but not permitted to consume it.

The justices said the 2019 appellate court ruling allowing prisoners to have up to 1 ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana went against common sense. The high court sided with the state attorney general in finding the state’s marijuana law approved by voters did not apply to Californians in prison” reports the Associated Press.

California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 — the first state to take that legislative step. The Golden State ratified Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational marijuana and permitted residents to possess small amounts of the substance. 

Additionally, the measure “reduce[d] criminal penalties for specified marijuana-related offenses for adults and juveniles [and] authorize[d] resentencing or dismissal and sealing of prior, eligible marijuana-related convictions.”

According to a new Gallup poll, 49% of American adults have tried marijuana. This is up from 20% in 1977, 30% in 1984, and 40% in 2015.

“Nearly as many Americans today say they smoke marijuana as say they smoke cigarettes, given the long-term decline in cigarette smoking,” notes Gallup.

The supreme court ruled on a case that came from five incarcerated individuals, including Goldy Raybon and Nisaiah Perry, who were found to have marijuana in their cells. The court believed that voters who supported Proposition 64 had not intended marijuana legalization to extend to prisons.

“There is nothing in the ballot materials for Proposition 64 to suggest the voters were alerted to or aware of any potential impact of the measure on cannabis in correctional institutions, much less that the voters intended to alter existing proscriptions against the possession or use of cannabis in those institutions,” Associate Justice Joshua Groban wrote for the majority.

“Two justices, Mariano-Florentino Cuellar and Leondra Kruger, partly dissented with the majority opinion and argued that the 2016 law presents a legal dilemma for prosecutors because it creates dueling statutes with different penalties,” per UPI.

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