SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington's Supreme Court said defendants busted for marijuana can argue they needed it for medical reasons, even if they failed to follow the requirements of the state's medical marijuana law.
In a 5-4 opinion Thursday, the justices said voters did not get rid of the "medical necessity defense" when they passed the medical pot law in 1998.
The law allows people to use marijuana for medical conditions, and it allows them to have far more of the drug than the ounce adults are allowed to possess under Washington's recreational marijuana law, approved last year. People are required to obtain an authorization to use marijuana from an appropriate health care professional before they can avail themselves of the medical law.
Justice Barbara Madsen wrote for the majority that people who fail to follow the medical law can nevertheless argue in court that they needed the marijuana for medical reasons, but in order to do so, they must also show that complying with the medical marijuana law was not a viable alternative for them.