WAILUKU - An attorney for a medical marijuana advocate said in 2nd Circuit Court on Thursday that someone has to violate the law in order for legal medical marijuana patients to get their "medicine."
Defense attorney Chris Dunn told Judge Joseph Cardoza that Hawaii's medical marijuana law allows the medical marijuana patient and his or her caregiver to handle marijuana legally, but it offers no protection for someone to supply the marijuana.
"Someone has to break the law for the patient to get that medicine," said Dunn, who is representing Brian Murphy, director of Patients Without Time, a medical marijuana patient cooperative that had been operating in Paia.
Murphy is facing various charges that allege he illegally sold marijuana. Murphy, whom police described as the ringleader, was one of seven people arrested in November 2008 as part of "Operation Weedkiller." Police reported seizing hundreds of marijuana plants and clones, processed and unprocessed marijuana, drug paraphernalia, cash and a vehicle during a two-year investigation.
The discussion of the medical marijuana law arose as Murphy and Dunn were in court Thursday to deal with some technical pretrial issues. Murphy's trial date is Aug. 13.
Murphy's attorney said that although the law does allow patients to grow marijuana for personal medicinal use, patients are often too sick to garden and may become targets of thefts or assaults from those wanting the marijuana.
Murphy himself has been a victim of a robbery over marijuana, said Dunn.
He said that Murphy required patients to show proper documentation, including medical records, before they were given legal amounts of marijuana.
In court Thursday, Murphy brought a small portion of his 1,200 patients files.
Deputy Prosecutor Kristin Coccaro said that Dunn's presentation was "all side show on what the law says." Basically, Murphy was selling marijuana in violation of the law.
She said that the law was set up to prevent the establishment of "marijuana dispensaries." The law envisioned allowing a caregiver to administer marijuana to the patient, and Murphy was not a caregiver, Coccaro said.
"He was a dispensary. He was making money. People did not request him as their caregiver to hold their marijuana," she said.
Dunn told the court that under the law, a person can only be a caregiver for one patient. He acknowledged that Murphy was not a "caregiver" for all 1,200 patients.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.