When Does Marijuana Become "Usable Marijuana" Under State Medical Marijuana Statutes?


David Rudoi Esq.
February 5th, 2012

Rogue River, Oregon resident Josh Brewer was charged with violating state controlled substance laws when it was determined by police that the almost three pounds of marijuana he had drying on coat hangers was considered “usable,” and therefore constituted possession above the legal limit under the state’s medical marijuana statute. Medical marijuana statutes all contain provisions restricting the amount of “usable marijuana” that a registered patient or caregiver may possess, but the point at which marijuana becomes “usable” is still up for discussion.

Brewer filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the drying marijuana was not usable and that, therefore, he was not in possession of an amount above that which is allowed. The judge in the case disagreed, but the state attorney general conceded eventually that, based on precedent from a 2007 Oregon court of appeals decision, marijuana drying on coat hangers does not constitute “usable marijuana” under the state’s medical marijuana statute.

It cannot be said exactly how courts will decide similar cases in the future, as there is still substantial ambiguity surrounding the term “usable marijuana” as used in states’ medical marijuana statutes. Caregivers do not consider marijuana in its damp, drying state to be suitable for use, insisting that it needs to be dried and cured for weeks. It seems likely that precedent, for now, will hold that marijuana on branches or hanging to dry is not considered usable, but there is no guarantee, and the precise point in the manufacturing process at which marijuana officially becomes classified as “usable” is still extremely unclear.