A Pennsylvania man who uses medical marijuana for several health conditions spent 10 days in jail after testing positive for the drug, KDKA-TV reported.
Common Pleas Court Judge Mark V. Tranquilli ordered Sampson Bailey Jr. to take a drug test April 10 when he appeared to be under the influence while in a Pittsburgh court on a separate case.
Bailey was in court that day for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card three times at Painting With a Twist, an art business that offers group painting lessons. The store's manager had tracked him down after matching his name and photos with his reservation when the credit card company refused to pay the charges.
The 24-year-old, who was out on $1,00o bond, landed in jail for a violation of his bond after the test came back positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He didn't have his medical marijuana card to prove that he was licensed to use the drug.
State records showed he was granted approval for medical marijuana in February.
“I wasn’t expecting to be there at all. I was supposed to go to work in a couple of hours,” Bailey said. “Wasn’t able to go to my work. I missed eight days. Lost a job.”
Bailey told KDKA he didn't take his medical marijuana card with him to court because he didn't think he would be drug tested. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he never received the card.
He has denied being under the influence while he was in court. Bailey said he uses cannabidiol oils and doesn't smoke pot.
“I was not high that morning,” Bailey told KDKA.
Finally, the man's doctor provided proof to the court that he does hold a medical marijuana card.
“When they put me in handcuffs I was really confused, I didn’t understand what was going on,” Bailey told The Inquirer. “That was the hardest 10 days of my life.”
He was released Friday from the Allegheny County Jail.
What do legal experts say?
Experts advise medical marijuana users to keep their card with them at all times.
“The only thing that will protect a medical cannabis patient is that card,” attorney Patrick Nightingale, a partner with Cannabis Legal Solutions, told The Inquirer.
Nightingale, who is not involved in Bailey's case, told the news outlet that officials could have made a call to determine whether he was telling the truth or not.
Law enforcement officials do not have access to the medical marijuana users database. But “a simple call to the Department of Health can verify that someone is active with the program,” Nightingale said.
Pennsylvania Department of Health spokeswoman April Hutcheson said officers could make a call to the health department to verify a person's status, but that there's no dedicated line to accommodate such requests.