This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Shawn Mark Corrigan,
LouAnn Carol Corrigan,
Ross Anthony Corrigan,
Filed August 7, 2001
Benton County District Court
File Nos. K7-98-1283,
Robert James Raupp, Assistant Benton County Attorney, Courts Facility, PO Box 189, Foley, MN 56329 (for respondent)
Daniel A. Eller, 925 S. First Street, P.O. Box 638, St. Cloud, MN 56302 (for appellants)
Considered and decided by Hanson, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
These are consolidated appeals from judgments of conviction for aiding and abetting fifth-degree controlled-substance crime under Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subds. 2(1), 3(2) (1996). Appellants are members of the same family and household. Two of them claim that self-administration of marijuana gives them relief from their ailments and all argue that the trial court erred in precluding them from presenting a defense of medical necessity. We affirm.
Appellants argue that the district court should have allowed them to assert a defense of medical necessity in response to the marijuana possession charge. The district court relied upon this court’s decision in State v. Hanson, which determined that the defense of medical necessity had not been recognized in Minnesota and noted that such a defense has only been recognized elsewhere if “the legislature has not itself, in its criminal statute, made a determination of values.” State v. Hanson, 468 N.W.2d 77, 78 (Minn. App. 1991) (quotation omitted), review denied (Minn. June 3, 1991). The court stated: “The statutory classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance implies a determination that marijuana has ‘no currently accepted medical use in the United States.’” Id. (citing and quoting Minn. Stat. § 152.02, subds. 1, 7(1) (1990)). The court noted that the legislature had provided a single exception to this rule “for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who are receiving the drug under the strict controls of an approved medical research program.” Id. (citing Minn. Stat. § 152.21, subds. 1, 3, 6 (1990)). The court concluded that these statutes “show conclusively that the possible medical uses of marijuana have been brought to the legislature’s attention” and that the defendant had not shown that the prohibition of therapeutic marijuana use was “inappropriate for legislative action.” Hanson, 468 N.W.2d at 79.
The United States Supreme Court recently visited this issue in the context of clinical marijuana manufacture and distribution, and concluded, similar to Hanson, that the defense of medical necessity cannot succeed where the federal statute “reflects a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception.” U.S. v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Coop., 121 S. Ct. 1711, 1718 (2001) (interpreting 21 U.S.C. §§ 811, 841(a) (1998)).
Appellants ask us to reconsider Hanson in light of changed circumstances. They posit that the level of recognition of the therapeutic uses of marijuana in the medical literature has significantly increased. We accept appellants’ account of the benefits they have obtained from self-administration of marijuana for their ailments and we are sympathetic to their situation. But appellants have not distinguished their circumstances from those faced in Hanson. Whether changed circumstances have occurred that would now warrant recognition of a medical necessity defense to a charge of possession of marijuana is for the legislature to determine, not for this court. See St. Aubin v. Burke, 434 N.W.2d 282, 284 (Minn. App. 1989) (stating that the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ function is “primarily decisional and error correcting rather than * * * legislative or doctrinal * * * .”) Thus far, the legislature has made no such determination. To the contrary, it has shown continued acquiescence to Hanson in its revisions of Minnesota’s controlled-substance statutes. See Minn. Stat. §§ 152.02, subd. 7(1), 152.21, subds. 1, 3, 6 (2000).
We have considered that this case differs slightly from Hanson and Oakland Cannibis Buyers’ Coop. in that the charge here is possession, whereas the charges there were manufacture and distribution. The concurring opinion of Justice Stevens in Oakland Cannibis Buyers’ Coop. suggests that this difference might affect the analysis of the medical necessity defense under the federal drug laws. 121 S.Ct. at 1722. However, we conclude that this difference does not provide any basis for altering the analysis in Hanson. The legislature’s determination that marijuana has no accepted medical use stands equally as a bar to a medical necessity defense, whether the charge is for possession or for manufacture and distribution. Again, the question whether possession should be viewed differently is one for the legislature to address.