Pubdate: Fri, 01 Jun 2001
Source: Auburn Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Auburn Journal
Author: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer


Student With Doctor's Recommendation Counseled Against Drug Use By Judge

A Sierra College student's marijuana possession case was dismissed
Tuesday on Proposition 215 grounds but the defendant couldn't escape
some advice from the judge who decided the case wouldn't proceed.

"Don't smoke dope son," Judge James Garbolino said as former defendant
James Shelton stood up and prepared to leave the courtroom. "It's a
sham and also a violation of federal law. You should also know that
it's an entry-level drug to other things."

Shelton, 20, had secured a doctor's recommendation to smoke marijuana
to treat asthma and insomnia. The Garden Valley resident was charged
with possession of under an ounce of pot after a Sierra College police
officer found marijuana in a film canister in Shelton's pocket and a
plastic bag containing cannabis in his vehicle.

Garbolino read the doctor's recommendation before rejecting prosecutor
Mike Paschon's request to take the case to trial. Paschon said the
defense should have to prove that marijuana is a valid medical
treatment. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that there was no
evidence marijuana has any valid medical use.

Garbolino said he would dismiss the case because Shelton produced an
apparently valid recommendation for marijuana use from a physician
that predates the defendant's arrest and exempts him from prosecution.
The judge added that he appreciated the prosecution's attempts to
determine whether ingesting marijuana for asthma was a valid treatment.

"But I don't think it falls under the purview of the act," Garbolino
said. Passed by California voters in 1996, Prop. 215 allows people to
grow or possess marijuana if they have obtained a doctor's
recommendation for medical use.

Assistant Public Defender Richard Cohen, while declining to comment on
the judge's advice to his client, said dismissal "represents the right
thing to do."

"It's the law and the district attorney and police should honor it,"
he said. "And the Supreme Court decision didn't rule on California
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