Medical marijuana can be used while on probation, Colorado Supreme Court rules

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Budtender Miles Claybourne sorts strains of marijuana for sale into glass containers at The Station, a retail and medical cannabis dispensary, in Boulder, Colo., Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. The DEA announced Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 that the Obama administration will keep marijuana on the list of the most dangerous drugs, despite growing popular support for legalization, but will allow more research into its possible medical benefits. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
The state’s highest court ruled that the use of medical marijuana is allowed unless specific exceptions outlined in the statute are met.

DENVER — In an opinion, issued Monday, the Colorado State Supreme Court said people serving probation in Colorado are allowed to use medical marijuana unless prosecutors prove that one of the specific exceptions outlined in the state law applies.

The ruling stems from a DUI case in El Paso County. Alysha Walton was pulled over for weaving and officers smelled alcohol on her breath, according to court documents. Walton eventually pleaded guilty to a DUI charge and was sentenced to twelve months of unsupervised probation, according to court documents.

Because Walton did not provide a medical professional to testify regarding her authorization to use medical marijuana, the court prohibited Walton from using medical marijuana as a condition of her probation.

Walton appealed, and the district court affirmed the county court’s decision. The case then went to the Colorado Supreme Court, which took up the case even though Walton had already completed her probation.

The Colorado Supreme Court found that the probation statute “creates a presumption that a defendant may use medical marijuana while serving probation unless a statutory exception applies.”

In this case, the Court found that prosecutors needed to prove that prohibiting Walton’s otherwise-legal use of medical marijuana was “necessary and appropriate to promote statutory sentencing goals.” The court found that didn’t happen.

The state’s highest court also found that the county court’s “blanket policy” requiring defendants who wanted to use medical marijuana to have a medical professional testify “contradicted the language of the probation conditions statute.”

The law allowing medical marijuana use while on probation was signed into law in 2015.

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