Hawaii Supreme Court to hear medical marijuana case


By NANCY COOK LAUER

Stephens Media

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal from a man convicted of promoting a detrimental drug when he tried to take his medical marijuana on a flight to Honolulu from Kona International Airport.

Geoffrey Woodhall was arrested at the airport March 8, 2010, when Transportation Security Administration employees found 2.12 grams of marijuana in a clear plastic bag in his possession at an airport checkpoint, according to court records. Woodhall showed his valid medical marijuana “blue card” to the TSA agents and then to a Hawaii Police Department officer, according to the facts stipulated in the case.

The Supreme Court, in a short notice posted Friday afternoon, said only that the higher court was accepting the case and would schedule oral arguments shortly.

Woodhall was found guilty of the petty misdemeanor drug charge after a bench trial in Kona District Court. He was fined $50 and assessed $280 in court costs.

A three-judge panel of the Intermediate Court of Appeals on Sept. 25 upheld the conviction, saying Woodhall did not prove he was “transporting marijuana to alleviate symptoms or the effects of a debilitating medical condition.”

“None of the stipulated facts relates to Woodhall’s purpose for possessing marijuana at the Kona Airport,” the ICA order said.

Simply possessing a blue card was insufficient to show the need to transport the marijuana through a public place, the appeals panel said.

Under state law, medical marijuana cards can be issued for debilitating medical conditions, but distribution is limited to the transfer of marijuana and paraphernalia from the qualifying caregiver to the patient. Patients are allowed to possess an “adequate supply,” defined as three mature plants, four immature plants and 1 ounce of usable marijuana per each mature plant. They are not allowed to smoke it or ingest it in public.

Two similar cases of medical marijuana users transporting their drug through Hilo International Airport were dismissed by a Hilo District Court judge in December 2010. More than 9,000 Hawaii residents have medical marijuana cards.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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