People v. Raybon: What This Means for You and Your Cannabis While Incarcerated


People v. Raybon: What This Means for You and Your Cannabis While Incarcerated

The legalization of cannabis for adult use in California under Proposition 64 marked a significant shift in the state’s approach to drug policy. However, a recent California Supreme Court case, People v. Raybon, 11 Cal. 5th 1056 (2021), has brought attention to an important legal question: does the passage of Proposition 64 affect the possession of cannabis in state correctional facilities? In this article, we will delve into the details of the case and explore the court’s decision, shedding light on its implications for the enforcement of cannabis possession laws within prisons.

Background: Proposition 64 and Penal Code Section 4573.6

Proposition 64, officially known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, was approved by California voters in November 2016. The Act legalized various activities related to cannabis for individuals aged 21 and older, including possession of up to 28.5 grams (approximately one ounce) of cannabis, subject to certain exceptions. However, an interesting legal conflict arose when it came to the possession of cannabis within state correctional facilities.

Penal Code Section 4573.6 makes it a felony to possess a controlled substance, including cannabis, in a state prison or other correctional facilities. The statute’s purpose is to prevent the introduction of illicit substances into the prison environment, thereby curbing potential disruptions and violence associated with drug use. The question at the heart of the legal dispute was whether Proposition 64’s legalization of adult cannabis possession also extended to possession within correctional facilities.

People v. Raybon: The Legal Debate

In People v. Raybon, five defendants were convicted of violating Penal Code Section 4573.6 for possessing less than 28.5 grams of cannabis within a state prison. They argued that Proposition 64’s legalization of adult cannabis possession invalidated their convictions. The defendants contended that the exception in Proposition 64, which preserved laws “pertaining to smoking or ingesting cannabis” within correctional facilities, did not extend to possession offenses.

The Third District Court of Appeal and the First District Court of Appeal held contrasting views on the matter. The Third District rejected the argument that possession should be considered as part of “smoking or ingesting,” while the First District upheld the interpretation that Proposition 64 did not affect existing prohibitions against possession in prison.

Supreme Court’s Ruling and Implications

The California Supreme Court ultimately sided with the interpretation put forth by the First District and upheld the prohibition on cannabis possession within correctional facilities. The Court’s decision hinged on the wording of Proposition 64’s exception, which references “laws pertaining to smoking or ingesting cannabis.” The Court reasoned that the phrase “pertaining to” implies a broader relation between two things rather than an exact correspondence. As such, the Court concluded that possession laws were related to the act of smoking or ingesting cannabis, making them eligible for the exception.

Furthermore, the Court emphasized that Proposition 64 sought to regulate adult cannabis possession while maintaining the status quo within correctional facilities. The Court noted that the purpose of the possession laws in prisons was to prevent drug use, and these laws directly pertained to the possession of drugs, not just their consumption. Therefore, the Court held that Proposition 64 did not invalidate convictions under Penal Code Section 4573.6, and cannabis possession within correctional facilities remains prohibited.

The California Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Raybon clarifies that the passage of Proposition 64 did not extend the legalization of adult cannabis possession to state correctional facilities. The ruling underscores the distinction between possession and consumption and highlights the state’s commitment to maintaining the prohibition of drug possession within prisons. As a result, individuals incarcerated in state correctional facilities should be aware that possessing cannabis, even in small amounts, remains a violation of the law.

If you or a loved one is facing Drug charges, do not hesitate. Contact your local Orange County criminal defense attorney, Halley J. Peters, today at (949) 519-4955.

Remember, with Halley, no concern is too small.

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