As most Californians know, Proposition 64 gave adults, over the age of 21, the right to use cannabis. The law allows for the possession of small amounts of pot for personal use.
While the laws about cannabis as they pertain to average citizens are relatively simple to understand, when it comes to people serving time in penal institutions, it is decidedly less cut and dry.
It is no secret that men and women find a way to get illegal drugs into jails. Prisoners caught with contraband of this kind are at risk of having more time added on to their sentence length. However, there is some uncertainty as to what happens when a formerly illegal drug becomes legal. Should being caught with small amounts of marijuana lead to longer sentences?
The 3rd District Court of Appeals in Sacramento weighed in on this subject recently, NPR reports. The court’s ruling may come as a surprise to some readers.
Possession of Marijuana in Prison
Last week, the court of appeals overturned the convictions of five inmates who had been found guilty of possessing marijuana while behind bars, according to the article. The decision, as one might imagine, has some prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys scratching their heads.
Naturally, much is at stake regarding this topic; the five inmates and many more in similar situations were each looking at time being added to their sentence. While prisoners are prohibited from using drugs, the law says that simple possession is not a felony.
“The plain language of Proposition 64 is clear,” said the justices. They add that “possession of less than one ounce of cannabis in prison or a similar penal institution is not a felony.”
The panel of three justices said officials could still ban cannabis in jail and prison “to maintain order and safety in the prisons and other penal institutions.”
Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office has not announced if it plans to appeal the decision.
Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower for legal assistance. Attorney Brower specializes in several areas of criminal defense and can assist you or a loved one secure a favorable outcome.