A California court on June 11 overturned the convictions of five men who were found in possession of cannabis while in prison.
This new ruling says that while smoking or ingesting cannabis in prison is still a felony, possession is not actually against state law, just prison regulations. “In order to combat the plain meaning of Proposition 64, the Attorney General deploys a little-known canon of statutory construction in an effort to muddle the meaning of the statute,” claims Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye in his ruling.
“The argument flies in the face of the plain language of the statute and common sense,” Raye further added, refuting the prosecution’s claims that a plain reading of the statute would lead to “absurd results” that would allow the court to override the law. “A result is not absurd because the outcome may be unwise. We cannot ignore binding precedent and the plain language of a statute based on the intensity of the Attorney General’s passion to criminalize an act the electorate has decided no longer merits treatment as a felony.”
According to Courthouse News, this ruling will remand the inmates’ cases for the trial court to grant their petitions for relief from their convictions. The five appellants are Goldy Raybon, Anthony Cooper, Dwain Davis, Scott Haynes and James.
While this ruling may be surprising to some, it is not so surprising to find things like this happening California. The state is known for its forgiving policies. The northern California city of Oakland recently became the second city in the U.S. to decriminalize mushrooms and the state also recently approved more leniency for cannabis banking.
This is a serious gain for both cannabis consumers and the rights of prisoners, and will set a precedent for how cannabis should be treated in prisons across the country in the future.