by Shelly Bradbury & Paula Reed Ward, PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE
A Pittsburgh medical marijuana patient was jailed last week after he tested positive for the drug and was unable to provide proof of his medical certification to an Allegheny County judge.
Samson L. Bailey Jr., 24, spent 10 days in jail after Common Pleas Court Judge Mark V. Tranquilli revoked his $1,000 bond on April 10. The judge ruled that the THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — in Bailey’s system was a violation of his bond, which prohibited the criminal activity.
Although Bailey told the judge he used cannabidiol oil and was under a physician’s care, neither he nor his attorney, Joseph S. Otte, were able to produce Bailey’s medical marijuana identification card in court or proof of the card in subsequent legal filings during the next week.
Bailey remained in jail until his doctor provided proof of his medical certification on Thursday, prompting the judge to order Bailey’s release. He was freed Friday.
“When they put me in handcuffs I was really confused, I didn’t understand what was going on,” Bailey said. “That was the hardest 10 days of my life.”
The case shows how heavily the courts and law enforcement must rely on medical marijuana patients’ identification cards to determine whether a person is a legal user of the drug, and suggests patients must take a proactive role in their own legal protection as the court system adjusts to the paradigm shift of legal medical marijuana.
“The only thing that will protect a medical cannabis patient is that card,” said attorney Patrick Nightingale, a partner at Cannabis Legal Solutions, who is not connected to the case.
In Pennsylvania, law enforcement officers cannot access the state’s database of medical marijuana patients. The only way a police officer can immediately verify a patient’s status as a legal user is by viewing their medical marijuana ID card.
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