In People v. Raybon, the Supreme Court today concludes that Proposition 64, a 2016 initiative that in general allowed adults to possess limited amounts of cannabis, did not override an existing statute banning possession of controlled substances in state correctional facilities. Prison possession is still illegal even though, when the initiative specified exceptions to decriminalization, it said only that it wasn’t invalidating laws “pertaining to smoking or ingesting” cannabis in correctional facilities.
The court’s opinion by Justice Joshua Groban finds that “the phrase ‘[l]aws pertaining to smoking or ingesting cannabis’ [citation] is broad enough to encompass statutes that criminalize possession.”
Justice Leondra Kruger — joined by Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar — writes separately. She agrees that prison possession remains illegal, but dissents from the majority’s additional ruling that, as Justice Kruger puts it, “after Proposition 64, prosecutors may continue to charge in–prison cannabis possession exactly as they have been — that is, by choosing at will between two overlapping felony statutes, one of which carries steeper penalties than the other, and whose coverage is expressly tied to the scope of state–law prohibitions applicable outside of prison.” Kruger says it’s unnecessary to decide that additional issue in the case and she also criticizes the way the majority decides it.
The court reverses the Third District Court of Appeal, which disagreed with a 2019 First District, Division Two, decision.