Calif man claims legal use of pot in Arkansas

January 6, 2003 Posted: 04:45:14 PM PST

The Associated Press
OZARK, Ark.(AP) - A California man said he has a doctor's permission to use marijuana, but a prosecutor said Monday the state plans to charge the man anyway.

Law enforcement officers recommended a formal charge against James B. Smith of possession with intent to deliver, according to Franklin County Deputy Prosecutor Gordon Mack McCain.

Smith, 37, is to appear in court March 13.

Smith says he has a doctor's permission to use marijuana to alleviate chronic back pain.

Authorities say Smith was stopped Dec. 23 on Interstate 40 near Ozark for careless driving. A sheriff's deputy reported finding 1 1/2 pounds of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $1,500 in cash in Smith's motor home. He was arrested on drug charges, then released from the county jail on $25,000 bond.

Lawyer Dale Schafer, who with his wife, Dr. Marion Mollie Fry, runs the California Medical Research Center in Cool, Calif., in El Dorado County, confirmed that Smith was a patient at the center and that his wife recommended marijuana to alleviate his back pain.

Schafer said Monday that Smith is legally allowed to smoke marijuana in California because he has a recommendation from a doctor.

"This is not the first time, and I doubt it's going to be the last time, where someone goes out of the state of California and gets detected by law enforcement with marijuana, but they are a valid California user," Schafer said. "He's not being accused of driving without a license because he's a California driver in Arkansas, is he?"

Schafer said he planned to help Smith fight the drug charge.

"It's not a good use of state resources to punish someone for doing something
that is lawful somewhere else," Schafer said.

The prosecutor declined to comment on Smith's argument.

"Until the defense puts something before us, I won't be able to respond," McCain

California voters approved the use of marijuana as medicine in 1996 with Proposition 215. But federal law still bans marijuana under any circumstances.