Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Weed-Eater's Excuse for Pot on Plane Doesn't Fly in Court

A man arrested for attempting to bring more than 3 pounds of marijuana aboard a flight at San Francisco International Airport claimed the marijuana was for his personal use.

But that's not even the strange part, reports San Francisco's KPIX-TV. Enrico Esguerra, 36, told police that he was a voracious consumer of marijuana by eating it, rather than smoking it. Esguerra, who had a California medical marijuana card with him when he was arrested, said that his doctor had recommended he have 15 pounds of marijuana with him to satiate his appetite.

What did a jury think of Esguerra's pot-eating explanation?

Found Guilty of Felonies

Following a five-day trial that ended earlier this week, a jury convicted Esguerra of felony possession of marijuana for sale and felony transportation of marijuana.

Under the California Health and Safety Code, possession of marijuana for sale is a felony punishable by up to three years in state prison or county jail. Transportation of marijuana is punishable by up to four years in state prison or county jail.

And while there are anecdotal reports of passengers making it through security at San Francisco's airport with small amounts of pot, Esguerra's 3-pound stash was apparently too much to sneak past authorities.

California's Medical Marijuana Law

California was the first U.S. state to pass a law allowing residents to legally possess and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. Under the Golden State's medical marijuana law, a qualified patient may possess up to eight ounces of dried marijuana.

However, the California Health and Safety Code also notes that a patient with a "doctor's recommendation that this quantity does not meet the qualified patient's medical needs" may possess "an amount of marijuana consistent with the patient's needs."

While that law may have worked in Esguerra's favor had he been caught with pot at his San Francisco home, airports are a different story. Federal laws apply to U.S. airspace, and TSA agents are required to confiscate marijuana if they see it.

In this case, jurors agreed with prosecutors that Esguerra had violated the law. He is out on $15,000 bail and is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

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