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Man arrested with cannabis in his car, but not charged, could be an indicator of how Utah’s medical marijuana law will be treated

Posted at 6:46 PM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 20:47:25-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A medical marijuana user is sharing his story after being arrested and charged just days after Utahns voted 'yes' on Proposition 2, which legalized medical cannabis in Utah.

Jason Harris is a father and an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He's sharing his story after his case was dismissed Tuesday in Utah County and his lawyers along with the Utah Patients Coalition are hopeful this example will become the new standard.

Days after Proposition 2 passed in Utah, Harris was speeding on his way to work.

“I had the pit of guilt in my stomach when I passed an officer and saw the blue lights,” Harris said.

The tone with the arresting officer's voice quickly changed when he thought he smelled marijuana.

“The next thing I know is I was exited from my vehicle and immediately placed in handcuffs,” Harris said.

Harris is a legitimate medical marijuana patient, but after he was arrested, he started to think he was fooling himself.

“Maybe I can find another solution. A solution that doesn`t end in handcuffs anymore,” Harris said.

However, after just a few days without using cannabis, he started to feel sick again.

“The colitis came back and the migraines soon followed from my cystic tumor in my head," Harris said. "I was unable to function at work and it just got worse."

Attorney Steve Burton took Harris’ case.

“He was the type of person the law was intended to protect,” Burton said.

Even though Harris is a legitimate patient, his attorneys say he was officially breaking the law because his cannabis wasn't packaged correctly.

It’s not a surprising mistake, according to Connor Boyack, President of the Libertas Institute, .

“As patients are trying to navigate this new law and figure out how to perfectly comply there`s going to be some hiccups,” Boyack said.

Ultimately, the prosecutor decided to drop the charges.

“If Jason did in fact go before a jury and make his case that it`s unlikely that they would convict him and throw the book at him just because his medicine was not in some plastic packaging even though he had a qualifying condition,” Boyack said.

This case is making other patients hopeful that Utah prosecutors will follow suit and look at the intent of the law when dealing with people who use this plant as medicine.

“I believe in this medication. I believe in this plant," Harris said. "I`m ready for it to stop being demonized."