California prisoners can now legally possess pot. They just can't smoke it

California inmates can now legally po...

Posted: Jun 14, 2019 11:56 AM

California inmates can now legally possess marijuana in their cells -- as long as they don't use it, a state appeals court has ruled.

A three-judge panel on Tuesday overturned the convictions of five Sacramento men who were found with marijuana in their cells.

The California penal code criminalizes the smoking and ingesting of cannabis in prison, but it doesn't address possession, Presiding Justice Vance Raye wrote.

Before this ruling, prison inmates faced the possibility of an additional eight years behind bars for simple marijuana possession on top of the time served for their initial crime.

California voters in 2016 legalized recreational possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with no exception for people who are incarcerated.

The court cited Proposition 64 guidelines in noting that "possession of less than an ounce of cannabis in prison is no longer a felony," adding, "smoking or ingesting cannabis in prison remains a felony."

'Arcane rules' are out, judges say

Marijuana possession should still be considered a violation of prison rules -- like having cell phones or alcohol -- state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, had argued. But the judges pushed back, saying the AG "uses arcane rules" and "twists the meaning" of the Proposition 64 language.

The judges also dismissed Becerra's argument that marijuana possession would be an added stress on prison staff.

"We want to be clear that drug use and sales within state prisons remains prohibited," California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Vicky Waters said.

"CDCR is committed to providing a safe, accountable environment for prisoners and staff alike and we plan to evaluate this decision with an eye towards maintaining health and security within our institutions," she added.

Becerra's office must decide whether to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.

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Washington25362229
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California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3760303

Reported Deaths: 62334
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123582824026
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San Diego2781823725
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Kern1090521373
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Ventura809051011
San Joaquin731741391
Contra Costa68638806
Stanislaus620081056
Tulare49579839
Monterey43595382
San Mateo41903568
San Francisco36669543
Santa Barbara34323456
Solano32864250
Merced31821459
Sonoma30002318
Imperial28388722
Kings22977246
Placer22610291
San Luis Obispo21293260
Madera16444242
Santa Cruz16238206
Marin14040228
Yolo13897209
Shasta12110226
Butte11985199
El Dorado10141113
Napa985781
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Lake347143
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Siskiyou220523
Calaveras212553
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