Oral Argument Before the Supreme Court

No. SCWC-11-0000097, Thursday, March 14, 2013, 9:30 a.m.

STATE OF HAWAI`I, Respondent/Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. GEOFFREY WOODHALL, Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant.

(Promoting a Detrimental Drug in the Third Degree)

The above-captioned case was set for argument on the merits at:

University of Hawai`i at Manoa
William S. Richardson School of Law
Moot Courtroom
2515 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822-2328

Attorneys for Petitioner:

Taryn R. Tomasa and Kirsha Durante, Deputy Public Defenders

Attorney for Respondent:

Linda L. Walton, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 01/25/13.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SRA, SSM, & RWP, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner/Defendant-Appellant Geoffrey Woodhall (“Woodhall”) was charged with, and convicted of, Promoting a Detrimental Drug in the Third Degree, in violation of Hawai`i Revised Statutes (“HRS”) 712-1249(1) after he was stopped at Kona International Airport with 2.12 grams of marijuana and a valid medical marijuana certificate.

Woodhall raised a medical-use-of-marijuana defense under HRS § 712-1240.1(2)(1993 & Supp. 2000), which provides, “It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for any marijuana-related offense defined in this part that the person who possessed or distributed the marijuana was authorized to possess or distribute the marijuana for medical purposes pursuant to part IX of chapter 329 (Hawai`i’s “Medical Use of Marijuana” provisions).”

HRS § 329-125 (Supp. 2000) also provides, “A qualifying patient . . . may assert the medical use of marijuana as an affirmative defense to any prosecution involving marijuana under this [part] or chapter 712; provided that the qualifying patient . . . strictly complied with the requirements of this part.”

HRS § 329-121 (Supp. 2000) defines “medical use” to include “transport,” as follows (with emphasis added):

"Medical use" means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, use, distribution, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marijuana to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition. For the purposes of "medical use", the term distribution is limited to the transfer of marijuana and paraphernalia from the primary caregiver to the qualifying patient.

However, HRS § 329-122 (2010), prohibits “medical use” at any “place open to the public,” as follows (with emphasis added):

(c) The authorization for the medical use of marijuana in this section shall not apply to: . . . .

(2) The medical use of marijuana:

(A) In a school bus, public bus, or any moving vehicle;

(B) In the workplace of one's employment;

(C) On any school grounds;

(D) At any public park, public beach, public recreation center, recreation or youth center; or

(E) Other place open to the public. . . .

 

The ICA affirmed Woodhall’s conviction. It held, “Woodhall failed to carry his burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, his affirmative defense of medical use as defined in HRS § 329-121.” Specifically, the ICA stated that there were no facts specifying that Woodhall “was transporting marijuana to alleviate symptoms or the effects of a debilitating medical condition.” It further held, “The written certification does not create a presumption as to Woodhall’s purpose for possessing marijuana at the Kona Airport.”

On certiorari, Woodhall argues the following:

The ICA gravely erred in holding that in a prosecution under HRS § 712-1249, promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree, Woodhall’s valid medical marijuana certification was insufficient evidence to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Woodhall possessed the marijuana for medical purposes pursuant to HRS §§ 329-122 and 712-1240.1, medical use of marijuana and defense to promoting, respectively.

 

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