Effective September 8, 2016, House Bill 523 establishes for a patient, under specified conditions, an affirmative defense to a criminal charge of knowingly obtaining, possessing, or using marijuana and to a criminal charge of knowingly using or possessing marijuana drug paraphernalia. It also extends the affirmative defense to a parent or guardian of a minor patient.
To raise the affirmative defense established under the bill, a physician must have issued a written recommendation for the patient certifying all of the following:
- That a bona fide physician-patient relationship exists between the physician and patient;
- That the patient has been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition;
- That the physician or physician delegate requested from OARRS a report of information related to the patient that covers at least the 12 months immediately preceding the date of the report;
- That the physician has informed the patient or the patient's parent or guardian that it is the physician's opinion that the benefits of medical marijuana outweigh its risks.
Additionally, the patient must have used or possessed medical marijuana or the parent or guardian must have possessed medical marijuana only in a form or method in accordance with the bill's provisions.
The bill specifies that the affirmative defense may be raised only for conduct occurring on or after the bill's effective date, but not later than 60 days after the Board of Pharmacy begins accepting applications for patient or caregiver registrations. The bill also provides that it does not establish for a parent or guardian of a patient an affirmative defense to a criminal charge relating to the use of medical marijuana, unless the parent or guardian is also a patient who meets the foregoing requirements.