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Press Conference Tuesday, 2/15: Medical Marijuana Group Lawsuit Against CHP, Governor
by Americans for Safe Access
Monday Feb 14th, 2005 7:51 PM
Press Conference Tuesday, February 15:
Medical Marijuana Group Lawsuit Against CHP, Governor
Patients Say CHP Defied State Law in Traffic Stops
Monday, February 14, 2004
MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary McQuie (510) 333-8554

Press Conference Tuesday, February 15:
Medical Marijuana Group Lawsuit Against CHP, Governor
Patients Say CHP Defied State Law in Traffic Stops

OAKLAND – A medical marijuana rights group, Americans for Safe Access, is filing a
group lawsuit on behalf of seven legal medical marijuana patients and caregivers
against the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Governor Schwarzenegger for the CHP
policy of confiscating marijuana despite valid documentation of their legal patient

All the plaintiffs are qualified medical marijuana patients who possessed very small
amounts of marijuana, which they were legally entitled to possess and transport
under California law. All were stopped by the CHP for alleged traffic offenses, and
had their medicine confiscated by the police as an added punishment. "A number of
patients were told by CHP officers that they don't recognize Proposition 215," said
Kris Hermes, ASA's legal director. "CHP officers are sworn to uphold the laws of
this state, not subvert them." The suit argues that the CHP’s policy of
disregarding the Compassionate Use Act not only violates California law, but both
the federal and state constitutions.

It has been more than eight years since the passage of the Compassionate Use Act
(CUA) in 1996, where California voters approved the use of marijuana for medical
purposes. Since then, the California legislature has enacted law (SB 420) clarifying
the CUA and explicitly allowing for transportation of marijuana by qualified
patients and caregivers.

Local law enforcement in California has exhibited ongoing resistance to enforcing
state law, despite the enactment of both the CUA and SB 420. A report issued last
August by Americans for Safe Access stated that while this inappropriate conduct by
law enforcement occurs in the vast majority of California’s 58 counties, the worst
offender is the California Highway Patrol. The medical marijuana group is suing the
CHP to change their official policy stating that, “[e]ven if a Section 11362.5 H&S
claim is alleged, all marijuana shall be confiscated and booked as evidence.” The
only state-required documentation of legal patient status is a copy of a current
doctor's recommendation, which the CHP refuses to accept as anything but an
'alleged' claim.

One of the plaintiffs, Mary Jane Winters, a registered nurse who uses marijuana to
treat chronic pain stemming from three herniated discs in her spine, was pulled over
by the CHP on Thanksgiving Day, 2004 while on her way to deliver flowers to a
homeless shelter. The officer seized her two ounces of marijuana, despite being
presented with a physician’s recommendation to use marijuana medicinally.
"Confiscation from legal patients is a civil rights violation," said Winters. "They
had no reason to believe that I was not in compliance with California law."

WHEN: Tuesday, February 15, 2004, 10 am
WHERE: Alameda County Administration Building plaza, 1221 Oak St., Oakland
WHO: Medical marijuana patient plaintiffs and legal staff of Americans
for Safe Access
WHAT: Press conference to announce filing of patient lawsuit against CHP

To see the complaint, go to

To read the CHP policy on medical marijuana, go to


A national coalition of 12,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe
Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana. For more
information, see
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