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Name: People v. Strasburg
Case #: A114145
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/22/2007

The Compassionate Use Act confers a limited immunity from prosecution to a qualified patient, not complete immunity. (People v. Mower (2002) 28 Cal.4th 457.) It specifically provides that a qualified patient is permitted to possess no more than 8 ounces of marijuana and may not use marijuana under certain circumstances, including while driving. Observing appellant and another person sitting in a parked vehicle, a sheriff’s deputy walked up to the driver’s door and contacted appellant. As he did, he smelled marijuana. Appellant admitted he had been smoking marijuana but said he had a medical marijuana card. A search of the vehicle revealed 23 ounces of marijuana. The court found that the deputy had probable cause to search the vehicle once he smelled marijuana. If the officer located only 8 ounces or less of marijuana, appellant could have raised the Compassionate Use Act as a defense at trial but he could not use it to suppress the initial search.