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Name: People v. Clark
Case #: B253036
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 10/09/2014
Summary

Police have no affirmative duty to investigate a suspect’s status under the Compassionate Use Act prior to obtaining a search warrant. Acting on a tip from an informant and surveillance evidence, police officers obtained a warrant to search the garage of Clark’s residence for evidence of a marijuana grow. Officers seized marijuana plants, cocaine, and a shotgun. Clark filed a motion suppress the evidence, arguing that his cultivation of marijuana was legal under the Act and that there were no facts presented in support of the search warrant that the cultivation was illegal. Following the denial of the motion, Clark entered a plea of guilty. On appeal, Clark argued that the trial court erred because the Act imposes an affirmative duty on investigating law enforcement officers to inquire about a suspect’s status as a qualified patient or primary caregiver. Held: Affirmed. While the Act provides a defense at trial, it does not grant any immunity from arrest that would require reversal of a conviction for possession or cultivation of marijuana whenever law enforcement officers fail to conduct an adequate investigation of the defendant’s status as a qualified patient or primary caregiver prior to his or her arrest. (People v. Mower (2002) 28 Cal.4th 457.) Given the holding of Mower, the court here concluded that the Act cannot be interpreted to impose an affirmative duty on law enforcement officers to investigate a suspect’s status as a qualified patient or primary caregiver under the Act prior to obtaining a search warrant. Motions and trials are used to investigate the truth and legal effect of the medical marijuana defense provided under the Act. The facts in the search warrant affidavit provided sufficient probable cause to search Clark’s residence, and the suppression motion was properly denied.