A Nebraska judge has ordered a convicted felon not to use medical marijuana when he returns to California, even though the man is a registered patient under that state’s laws.
District Judge Jeffrey Funke of Sarpy County warned Joshua Nordstrum, 26, of California not to use medicinal cannabis. If he tokes, his probation could be revoked and he could go back to jail in Nebraska.
“You are not to possess marijuana even if you have a medical permit,” Funke said. “California says you can, but Nebraska says you can’t use it.”
Nordstrum pleaded guilty to attempted distribution of marijuana after Nebraska state troopers pulled him over Aug. 7 and found almost a pound of marijuana, plus hash and hash oil, in his rental car.
At his arrest, he provided police with his California medical marijuana card. All marijuana is illegal under Nebraska law, and there is no medical pot, though the state has decriminalized possession of small amounts.
As part of his plea agreement, Nordstrum was sentenced to two years probation. He had already served 98 days in jail. One of the terms of his probation was that he not use marijuana – even medical.
Funke had nothing to say about California’s medical marijuana law, good or bad, but he apparently had no compunction dictating patient rights across state lines. In this case, as he noted, Nordstrum displayed many of the characteristics of an addict, but that doesn’t mean other judges in other states won’t seek to block patient access simply as a means to express displeasure with legal weed.
The judge noted that Nordstrum had been smoking pot since age 14 and had a history of trying any drug he met. His medical marijuana card indicated he used the drug to treat a kidney problem.
Nordstrum’s lawyer, public defender Michael Ziskey, acknowledged his client “had been self-medicating with marijuana to address other issues.” Nordstrum got sober during his three months in jail, and he told the judge he’s willing to seek long-term addiction treatment while on probation.
Funke told Nordstrum his probation requires that he waive extradition – so if he violates probation while in California, he can be extradited to Nebraska to serve out his full sentence. That would amount to five years in prison. The judge compared Nordstrum’s predicament – and his own ruling – with the case of an alcoholic ordered not to drink.
“Alcohol is legal here, but if it’s a problem you have to stop,” he said.
The analogy isn’t perfect, though, since very few patients are deprived of “medical alcohol” when they’re ordered to stop drinking. What remains to be seen is whether other judges, or other state lawmakers, will deprive real patients of their weed as a means to interfere with the legal marijuana policies of states like California.