Saturday, August 25, 2007

Returning confiscated medical marijuana

Here's a link to the Register editorial on an interesting case argued Thursday before the 4th District state appellate court in Santa Ana. Two medical marijuana users, who were determined to be legitimate patients after being arrested for possession and having their medicine confiscated are asking that their property be returned. Since neither was charged with a crime, it should be a no-brainer, but the drug war seems to have deleterious effects on peoples' reasoning abilities. In one case a judge ordered the return but the city of Garden Grove refused and appealed the order. In the other case the judge refused to issue an order to return. With lower-level judges in disagreement, the issue is ripe for decision at the appellate level.

Garden Grove has argued that federal law trumps state law, and since marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law it shouldn't have to return the medicine. This is bogus. Cities are subdivisions of the state government under law, and are bound to enforce state law unless and until a federal court rules that federal law invalidates a given state law, which hasn't happened in the 11 years California's Compassionate Use Act has been in effect. The real problem is that some officials and police officers hate the fact that the voters approved the law are still trying to act as if it was never passed. Ignoring a valid law in that manner could get an ordinary citizen thrown in jail. Hmmm. Maybe that's what it will take.

I talked to Americans for Safe Access attorney Joe Elford after the hearing, and he said the judges were pretty active questioning both sides, and he couldn't predict how they would rule. If they have much respect for the law they should rule in favor of the patients, but Joe is right; it's a fool's game to try to predict what an appellate court will do.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read in a different article that one of the persons arrested said that the confiscated marijuana probably had lost some potency, boy what I wouldn't give for some of that old Excellant weed. We don't get to see that here in the mid west where 99 44/100% of our lawmakers have their heads encased in carbomite when it comes to Medical Marijuana. Which is why I am moving to Oregan, but I digress, The point is state law enforcement should be required to return the Medical Marijuana in states where it is legal. Law Enforcement should return confiscated Medical Marijuana OR pay the citizen who it was confiscated from the financial equivilent. That way the patient can replace it and there will be no loss of quality.

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Alan Bock said...

There may be hope for the Midwest. Michigan is gearing up for a medical marijuana initiative this fall. With progress stalled in the legislature, Ohio activists are considering going for a ballot initiative next year. We'll see what the voters have to say.