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Possession of Controlled Substance – Sufficiency of Evidence – Presence of Substance in System

State v. John L. Griffin, 220 Wis. 2d 371, 584 N.W.2d 127 (Ct. App. 1998)
For Griffin: Donald T. Lang, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue/Holding:

Like other jurisdictions, to be found guilty of possession of a controlled substance in Wisconsin, the defendant must have had the substance under his or her control and must have knowingly possessed the substance. See Wis J I-Criminal 920; Poellinger, 153 Wis.2d at 508, 451 N.W.2d at 758. Because our law of possession is similar to other jurisdictions, we follow those jurisdictions which have held that the mere presence of drugs in a person’s system is insufficient to prove that the drugs are knowingly possessed by the person or that the drugs are within the person’s control. Accordingly, we conclude that the presence of drugs in Griffin’s urine and blood stream, without more, is insufficient evidence on which to base a possession conviction.

Such presence is, however, “circumstantial evidence of prior possession” that may, in combination with other facts, support present possession — odor of marijuana and existence of several blunts supplies adequate proof for possession of marijuana; however, possession of cocaine is insufficiently proven because the only evidence was cocaine in Griffin’s urine.

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