Colorado Supreme Court Allows Medical Cannabis for Probationers

A recent ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court has cemented the right for individuals who are on probation to access the state medical cannabis program.

Full story after the jump.

In a historic decision on Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of allowing individuals on probation to use medical cannabis. Reversing the decision of two lower courts, the case centered around Alysha Walton and her 2017 guilty plea for alcohol DUI.

Although Walton has already completed the year of unsupervised probation and deferred sentence, the Court went ahead and issued the decision, reminding the lower courts that, if they restrict access to medical cannabis, the burden is on the prosecution to show medical cannabis will interfere with the goals of probation. 

According to the justices, the state’s probation conditions statute “creates a presumption that a defendant may use medical marijuana while serving a sentence to probation unless a statutory exception applies.”

“The relevant exception here applies if the sentencing court finds, based on material evidence, that prohibiting this defendant’s otherwise-authorized medical marijuana use is necessary and appropriate to promote statutory sentencing goals.” — Excerpt from the Colorado Supreme Court decision

Despite a 2015 Colorado law assuring that individuals on probation can continue to use medical cannabis, and Walton having had a medical cannabis recommendation from the state, she was denied access by El Paso County Judge Karla Hansen because she did not produce a doctor at her sentencing hearing to confirm that medical cannabis was an appropriate treatment for Walton. The Supreme Court said this violated her rights under the State Constitution, setting a precedent for other patients in the state who receive probation.

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