What happens if you have a medical marijuana card in your home state?

Let’s say you’re charged with possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) in Wyoming. But you have a medical marijuana card from your doctor in California, or from any of the 21 states that allow medical marijuana.

The short answer is: too bad. It is against Wyoming law to possess marijuana in Wyoming, whether or not you’re legally allowed to possess marijuana in your home state.

In the State of Wyoming, Wyoming Statute 7-35-1031(c)(i)(A), makes it a misdemeanor to possess less than 3 ounces in plant form of any controlled substance. That means it’s a misdemeanor to possess less than 3 ounces of marijuana. More than 3 ounces of marijuana is a felony. There is no exception in the Wyoming law for medical marijuana.

You might be thinking that law enforcement, the prosecutors and the Courts will be understanding of your medical condition. In my experience, they generally are not going to give you a break because you have a medical marijuana card. They will enforce the law as written. Until the law changes, expect to be zealously prosecuted.

In the Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park, the same logic applies. There, most common marijuana charge is for a violation of 36 CFR 2.35(b)(2), which criminalizes possession of a controlled substance. The statutes says:

(b) Controlled substances. The following are prohibited:
(1) The delivery of a controlled substance, except when distribution is made by a practitioner in accordance with applicable law. For the purposes of this paragraph, delivery means the actual, attempted or constructive transfer of a controlled substance whether or not there exists an agency relationship.
(2) The possession of a controlled substance, unless such substance was obtained by the possessor directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice or otherwise allowed by Federal or State law.

On the first read of the statute, you may think that you are entitled to possess the substance since you have a medical marijuana card, and therefore obtained the controlled substance pursuant to a valid prescription under State law. However, because the federal government doesn’t recognize medical marijuana, you’re out of luck. Under federal law, marijuana is a schedule one controlled substance and possession is a federal crime.

Occasionally, when considering whether to order drug treatment, our local judges will order less drug treatment for a medical marijuana patient.

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