Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

February 26, 2010
Sacramento airport traveler's pot stash offers test case

Matthew Zugsberger, an ex-deep sea diver badly injured in an oil platform accident, will step into a Sacramento courtroom Monday with his awkward limp - and stride into the debate over how much weed medical marijuana users can possess.

Zugsberger, now 33, was arrested with more than three pounds of pot at the Sacramento International Airport in December, 2008. He says he was taking it to New Orleans to have a master chef whip it up into pasta dishes and ice cream desserts for his use.

Prosecutors say Zugsberger was illegally transporting marijuana and possessing for sale, offenses that could earn him four years in prison.

Zugsberger has an interesting defense - a Mendocino County physician's recommendation saying he can possess five pounds of pot and 25 plants to treat his pain.

A Sacramento County Sheriff's sergeant testified that Zugsberger presented a pot referral from "a laser hair removal doctor."

His case is closely watched by pot access advocates.

Last month, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot impose limits on the amount of marijuana medical users can grow or possess.

The ruling left open authorities' right to arrest patients who possess more than eight ounces of dried weed and six mature or immature plants. But they can't be convicted purely on the amount of pot.

"I am a test case, absolutely," Zugsberger said.

He has pushed the legal envelope before. Last year, after Zugsberger and a girlfriend pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession in Washington, a judge agreed to return 10 pounds of weed.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.