A 24-year-old man who is a licensed and registered medical cannabis user was jailed after testing positive for THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component found in cannabis.
Samson L. Bailey Jr. was not able to provide proof of his medical cannabis certification to a judge in Allegheny County and thus had to spend 10 days behind bars. Judge Mark V. Tranquilli of the Common Please Court revoked Bailey’s $1,000 bond and ruled that the THC found in his system was considered a violation of his bond.
Bailey, who is from Spring Garden, appeared in front of Judge Tranquilli on April 10 on an unrelated offense. However, the judge was convinced that, at the time, Bailey was under the influence. Bailey denied this allegation, saying that he was not high that morning.
The judge ordered Bailey to undergo a drug test and he was found positive for THC.
Bailey had told Judge Tranquilli that he used cannabidiol (CBD) oil for several health conditions and that he was under the care of a physician. Bailey, however, did not have his medical cannabis card with him and explained that he also had no idea he would be subjected to a drug screen. He was also not in possession of marijuana.
Because Bailey, and his lawyer, Joseph S. Otte, were unable to produce the former’s medical cannabis identification card, the judge said he could not determine whether the defendant was telling the truth about being a medical cannabis license holder. As a result, Judge Tranquilli decided to lock Bailey up.
Bailey’s doctor provided proof of his medical certification several days later, prompting the judge to order his quick release from the Allegheny County Jail.
According to Bailey, he was really confused when police officers put him in handcuffs. He said that he was supposed to go to work in two hours and did not understand why he was arrested.
Bailey added that the 10 days he spent in jail were the “hardest 10 days” of his life. He missed eight days of work and lost his job.
What does the case mean?
Bailey’s case is relevant in that it shows how heavily law enforcement and the courts must rely on the medical cannabis IDs of patients in order to determine whether they are legal cannabis users. The case also suggests that patients must take a proactive role in protecting themselves legally while the court system is still adjusting to the paradigm shift brought about by legal medical cannabis.
Law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania cannot access the state’s medical cannabis patients database. The only way police can immediately verify the status of a legal patient is by viewing his or her medical cannabis ID card.
Attorney Patrick Nightingale, a partner at Cannabis Legal Solutions but not connected to Bailey’s case, said that through a quick call to the Department of Health, you can already verify whether someone is active with the state’s medical cannabis program.
He also explained that CBD oils can produce a false positive test. In some cases, people using the CBD oils are known to test positive for THC, too.
Nightingale also said that he thinks Bailey’s case is surprising. He believes that Bailey should have been given the chance to demonstrate to the court that he is a registered patient and that he simply does not physically have his patient ID with him.
Medical cannabis has been legalized in Pennsylvania in 2016. Medical cannabis patients are legally required to keep their ID cards on them when they have cannabis in their possession. However, they are not required by law to keep this ID card on them at all times.
Although state records show that Bailey had been granted a medical cannabis card in February, he never received his card and he believes that it may have been delivered to an incorrect address. He also clarified that he does not smoke weed, but instead relies on CBD oils, which are accessible legally even without a medical cannabis ID card.
According to Bailey, CBD oil improves his appetite and helps him manage pain, allowing him to take his medications easily.