Pubdate: Wed, 01 Aug 2012
Source: Helena Independent Record (MT)
Copyright: 2012 Helena Independent Record
Author: Sanjay Talwani


The Montana Supreme Court Tuesday turned to the lyrics of Bob Dylan 
in denying the appeal of a Havre man who mentioned counter-culture 
comedians Cheech and Chong in his appeal of a conviction for growing 
and intending to distribute marijuana.

Shawn M. Stoner was charged with the felonies after authorities found 
five marijuana plants, additional marijuana, a digital scale and 
other paraphernalia in his residence.

Some time after being charged, Stoner sought and received a card from 
the state authorizing him as a medical marijuana caregiver for one 
particular patient, and another certifying him as a patient under the 
state's medical marijuana law in place at the time.

In March 2011, Stoner asked a District Court to dismiss that charge, 
citing the provision in the law that a "qualifying patient" may use 
that defense in a criminal case.

That court disagreed, noting that he did not possess the card at the 
time of the crime, and said he could bring that argument before a 
jury but warning that his burden of proof would be "fairly high."

He pleaded guilty in an agreement with prosecutors but reserved his 
right to appeal on the basis of the medical card, but the high court 
upheld the lower court's ruling.

"They'll stone ya when you're trying to make a buck," Associate 
Justice Beth Baker wrote for the unanimous five-judge panel, quoting 
a Dylan song from 1966. "They'll stone you and then they'll say, 'good luck.'"

Stoner acknowledged to the high court that it was not the intent of 
the law "to allow unfettered use of marijuana to every stoner and 
reject from a Cheech and Chong casting call," referring to comedians 
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, who built their careers on 
marijuana-oriented humor.

"Nor, however, was it (the law's) intent to allow this Stoner, or 
others like him, an avenue for legalization of their creative 
endeavors," Baker wrote. "Unfortunately, though clever, his argument 
cannot prevail. Perhaps Stoner's ingenuity will turn a legitimate 
profit in the future."
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