Chronic Mess

Photo by Johan VogelThe fate of Orange County medical-marijuana activist Marvin Chavez rests with the California Supreme Court—the same court that unanimously ruled on July 18 that a sick Californian carrying pot and a prescription, doctor's note or any other form of official-seeming medical permission cannot be charged with marijuana possession.

That would seem to boost Chavez's chances of staying out of jail. The Orange County Patient/Doctor/Nurse Support Group founder was released from prison in April 2000 pending an appeal of his conviction on several counts of selling marijuana to undercover cops who posed as sick patients. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear that appeal within the next few months.

During that trial, a judge would not allow Chavez to cite Proposition 215, the statewide measure that legalized marijuana for sick patients six years ago. And federal law still allows local police and prosecutors to charge card-carrying medical-marijuana smokers with possession—or, assuming they find enough "evidence" lying around, possession with the intent to sell.

That was not the end of Chavez's troubles. While out on appeal, Chavez was arrested by Santa Ana police on Sept. 6, 2001. They confiscated 46 live plants and "numerous" dried ones. Even if the state Supreme Court overturns his first conviction, Chavez still faces a trial on that arrest.

"My honest opinion is that the district attorney is waiting to see what happens with the appeal," said Derek Bercher, Chavez's public defender. "If it is ultimately denied by the Supreme Court, he will go back to prison for another few years, and they will drop this new case."

 
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