"Medical necessity" defense a success in Texas pot possession trial

Reason reports that a 53-year-old Amarillo man who smokes pot to relieve his HIV-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome was acquitted on a possession charge.

His attorney, Jeff Blackburn, says this appears to be the first time the defense, which argues that breaking the law was necessary to prevent a harm worse than the one the law is aimed at preventing, has been successful in a Texas marijuana case.

Stevens, whose vomiting has been so severe that he was hospitalized and received blood transfusions, was arrested last October after an anonymous tipster saw him sharing a joint on a friend's porch in Amarillo and called the police. He had about a twelfth of an ounce of marijuana, resulting in a Class B misdemeanor charge that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. He probably could have gotten off with a fine or a year's probation, Blackburn says, "but he didn't want to; he wanted to take a stand." The trial lasted about 10 hours on Tuesday, and the jury came back after 11 minutes with a "not guilty" verdict.