HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Charges Against Medical Pot Patients Dismissed
Pubdate: Thu, 16 Dec 2010
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Copyright: 2010 West Hawaii Today
Author: Nancy Cook Lauer


Appeal 'Likely' Deputy Prosecutor Says

HILO -- Drug possession charges against two Big Island medical
marijuana patients who were arrested at Hilo International Airport
were dismissed Wednesday by District Court Judge Barbara Takase.

The ruling was cheered by members of the marijuana advocacy group
Friends for Justice who attended the hearing in a show of support.
Supporters hope the ruling will set a precedent for other medical
marijuana cases on the Big Island, including one to be ruled on Jan.
20 in Kona by District Court Judge Joseph Florendo.

But the plaintiffs aren't out of the woods yet.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Son told West Hawaii Today after
the hearing he is considering appealing the ruling. Takase set a Jan.
12 deadline for appeals.

"I think it's likely," Son said when asked if the state will

It's not know what laws or facts Takase used to come to her written
ruling of dismissal because she did not read it in the courtroom. A
clerk in the records department said the court's computer system does
not allow access to public records such as rulings while court is in
session. It could take more than a week before the ruling is
available, the clerk said.

Donna Goldsworthy, a nurse and well-known Red Cross volunteer, and the
other defendant, Alan R. Lee, were not in the courtroom. Both were
fighting second-degree misdemeanor charges of promoting a dangerous

Belinda Hill, the public defender representing Goldsworthy and Lee,
filed motions to dismiss the charges, although both defendants signed
stipulations admitting they were in possession of marijuana.

Son, on the other side of the case, conceded in the stipulation the
two had valid medical marijuana certificates, known as "blue cards,"
when they were charged and their marijuana confiscated.

The Transportation Security Administration, the federal agency that
screens passengers at airports, doesn't arrest passengers on drug
charges, but detains them and turns them over to local law

Advocate Matt Rifkin, a member of the Medical Cannabis Working Group
set up by the state Legislature, said medical marijuana patients often
report problems when they attempt to board planes for interisland
travel. He said at least 5,000 of the approximately 8,000 registered
medical marijuana users in the state live on the Big Island. They
often need to travel to Honolulu for medical care, he said.

"I think this happens a fair bit, but people just pay the fine and be
done with it," Rifkin said.

Goldsworthy, who was in a wheelchair with a broken leg, was detained
at the Hilo airport Dec. 12, 2008, after a pat-down search found 10.2
grams of marijuana in a plastic bag in her waistband, according to the
stipulation. Lee was carrying 2.97 ounces in his checked-in luggage
when he was stopped Nov. 6.

State law allows registered medical-marijuana patients to possess up
to 3 ounces of marijuana. The patients aren't allowed to use the
pakalolo in a public setting but "transportation of marijuana for
medical use is specifically protected," according to a manual put out
by the state Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division. 
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