August 21, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant’s Medical Use of Marijuana Violated Terms of His Deferred Judgment

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Wilburn on Thursday, September 26, 2013.

Deferred Judgment—Revocation—Medical Marijuana—Prescription—Affirmative Defense.

The People appealed the trial court’s order finding that defendant did not violate the conditions of his deferred judgment. The order was disapproved.

The probation department filed a complaint to revoke defendant’s deferred judgment, alleging in part that defendant had violated the condition that he not use or possess any narcotic, dangerous, or abusable substance without a prescription. The trial court found that defendant had not violated the conditions of his deferred judgment and dismissed the revocation complaint. The court essentially determined that defendant had established an affirmative defense to the revocation because he satisfied conditions of the Colorado Constitution pertaining to medical marijuana.

On appeal, the People contended that the trial court erred by concluding that defendant established an affirmative defense to revocation of the deferred judgment. Although the Colorado Constitution sets forth an affirmative defense to criminal prosecution based on the medical use of marijuana, it does not provide a defense to an administrative proceeding such as the revocation here. Because defendant violated his plea agreement by not possessing a prescription for medical marijuana, the People could seek revocation of his deferred judgment. Although the court erred in dismissing the revocation complaint, however, it does not follow that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to make its decision. Hence, its order was not a nullity, and the trial court’s ruling was disapproved.

Summary and full case available here.

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