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State v. Meyer

Supreme Court of Idaho

February 3, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
DOUGLAS EARL MEYER, Defendant-Appellant.

         2017 Opinion No. 11

         Appeal from the district court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Richard D. Greenwood, District Judge.

         The district court's judgment of conviction is affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellant Public Defender, Boise, attorneys for appellant. Brian R. Dickson argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney for respondent. Jessica M. Lorello argued.

          W. JONES, Justice

         I. Nature of the Case

         Appellant, Douglas Earl Meyer ("Meyer"), appeals his felony conviction for possession of over three ounces of marijuana. Meyer asserts on appeal that the district court erred when it denied his request for a jury instruction on the necessity defense. Meyer is a Washington State resident who has a prescription for medical marijuana and is the designated medical marijuana provider[1] for one, Tammy Lee Rose.[2] He was arrested while driving through Idaho on his way to California with over three ounces of marijuana in his vehicle. He argues that the district court was required to provide a necessity defense jury instruction because he had made a prima facie showing of each of the elements of that defense: (1) he will suffer pain if he does not use marijuana; (2) he was not the cause of his medical condition; (3) marijuana is an effective medication for him where other medications have not been effective; and (4) any harm caused by violating the law is less than the harm that he would have suffered if he did not use marijuana. The State responds that Meyers did not make a showing of each of the elements of the necessity defense because: (1) Meyer's use of marijuana to treat chronic pain does not constitute a specific threat of harm; and (2) Meyer could have avoided violating the law altogether by driving through Oregon instead of Idaho. The State further asserts that to the extent that Idaho Supreme Court precedent set forth in State v. Hastings, 118 Idaho 854, 801 P.2d 563 (1990) requires a necessity instruction in this case, Hastings should be overturned.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         On August 24, 2014, Meyer was pulled over for driving in excess of the speed limit. Police recovered an amount of marijuana in excess of three ounces as well as $2, 600 in cash. The State charged Meyer with: (1) possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in violation of Idaho Code section 37-2732(a), and in the alternative (2) possession of marijuana in excess of three ounces in violation of Idaho Code section 37-2732(e). Each of these crimes is a felony in the state of Idaho.

         On January 27, 2015, Meyer filed a motion for jury instructions. The motion contained the following necessity instruction:

         INSTRUCTION NO.

The defendant cannot be guilty [of (name of crime)] if the defendant acted because of necessity. Conduct which violates the law is justified by necessity if:
1. There is a specific threat of immediate harm to [the defendant] [name of person],
2. The defendant did not bring about the circumstances which created the threat of immediate harm,
3. The defendant could not have prevented the threatened harm by any less ...

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