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David Rudoi Esq.

November 1, 2012

On October 29, 2012 a California court of appeals ruled in People v. Leal that a person convicted for drug sales may be prohibited by a trial judge from using Medical Marijuana while on probation. Leal was convicted of possession of marijuana for sale as well as carrying a concealed loaded gun and was sentenced to nine months in jail and a probation term. One of the probation conditions prohibited Leal from the use of medical marijuana. Leal appealed only the probation condition which prevented him from his needed medical marijuana use.

Leal’s argument was that the probation condition violated his rights under California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 which was voter approved. California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 is similar to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in that it allows for patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval or recommendation.

The California Appeals court affirmed the trial court’s probation condition that prohibited Leal’s use of medical marihuana stating that the probation condition is related to the offense because Leal used the Compassionate Care Act of 1996 as a front for illegal sales of marijuana. The California appeals court ruled that the trial court must balance the need to protect the public with the right to use medical marijuana and in this case it was proper for the trial court to prohibit the use of medical marijuana as a probation condition since Leal did not present a overriding medical need to use medical marijuana.

This has been a big issue in Michigan as well. Trial courts throughout the state have set probation conditions which prohibit defendants from the use of medical marijuana. There has not been an appeals court ruling on this issue yet in Michigan, but it is likely one is soon on the way. The problem is that the same judges that are prohibiting the use of medical marijuana as a probation condition have the discretion to further jail the defendant and that means many defendants fear challenging the judge on this issue because the judge could just get angry and decide to give the defendant the full term in jail.

At Rudoi Law we have successfully convinced judges across the state to allow our clients to use medical marihuana while on probation. If you or your family member is afraid a judge may prohibit the use of medical marijuana as a probation condition call Rudoi law today for advice at (248) 935-9074.