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Medical pot case ends in diversion

OLYMPIA – Under an agreement reached with a prosecutor Monday, a medical-marijuana patient arrested in Lacey in 2007 will be allowed to smoke marijuana as he completes a two-year diversion program.

medical marijuana cannabisIf Julian Harris completes the diversion program, his felony charge of marijuana possession with intent to distribute will be dismissed.

Harris was arrested Sept. 30, 2007, when police officers found marijuana “in plain view” in his vehicle after a traffic stop initiated in Lacey because Harris was driving with a broken headlight, court papers state.

Harris, 33, was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute for the 31.9 grams of marijuana found in two baggies in the car, court papers state.

Harris, according to court records, showed police officers his “valid medical-marijuana authorization” after he was pulled over. A copy of a Bellevue doctor’s letter notifying the court that Harris is a medical-marijuana patient was part of the court file.

According to state law, a medical patient with a terminal or debilitating illness may use marijuana if he or she has valid documentation — a signed statement by the patient’s physician and proof of identity. Medical-marijuana patients are allowed to have a “60-day supply” under state law. Patients must get their medical marijuana from a designated provider under state law.

On Monday, Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Terri Gailfus agreed to accept Harris into a diversion program that would allow Harris’ criminal charge to be dismissed provided he completes the program, which includes community service. Gailfus said that if Harris fails to complete the program, he will automatically be convicted of the felony charge.

Typically, defendants accepted into a diversion program must “obey all laws” as a condition of the program. But Gailfus and Harris’ attorney, David Lousteau, said Tuesday that Harris will not be prohibited from using marijuana — as prescribed by state law — as he completes his diversion program because of his status as a medical-marijuana patient.


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