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California Court Rules Prison Inmates Can Possess Marijuana, But Not Use It

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A California court has ruled that prison inmates can legally possess marijuana in their cells, but they cannot use it.

Last week, the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento overturned the conviction of five prison inmates who were found with marijuana in their cells.

In 2016, California voters legalized recreational possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. According to the Proposition 64, possession of less than an ounce of cannabis in prison is no longer a felony in the state.

"The purpose of the language is to describe the vast array of means of consumption and consumption, not possession, is the act the voters determined should remain criminalized if the user is in prison. We agree with defendants that consumption can be achieved in ways not strictly involving smoking or ingesting, such as inhaled as a non-burning vapor or applied topically such that it is absorbed through the skin," the ruling by the three-judge panel said.

However, the judges noted that smoking or ingesting cannabis in prison remains a felony and prison regulations forbid possession.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has argued that marijuana possession should still be considered a violation of prison rules.

But the judges noted, "The Attorney General uses arcane rules of statutory construction, twists the meaning of the words of the statute, urges us to disapprove of cases directly on point, and makes a host of policy arguments why we should not apply the plain language of the statute."

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