Court Commissioner: Cops Must Return Woman's Confiscated (But Legal) Weed

Cops are not usually the people you expect to show up at your house with weed.  But in Arizona, this anomaly may become one woman's reality. A court commissioner has ordered sheriff's duties to return weed confiscated from a California medical marijuana card-carrying patient in Arizona. Court commissioner Linda Bleich says returning property the state legally allows a patient to maintain is decent, not illegal:

Court records show [Valerie] Okun was stopped in early 2011 at a Border Patrol checkpoint along Interstate 8.

Attorney Michael Donovan said officers searched her vehicle after a dog alerted on it, producing marijuana and hashish.

Rather than charge her under federal laws, the officers instead wrote up what amounts to a citation for violating Arizona drug laws, turning the matter over to county officials.

She has a medical marijuana card issued in California. And the Arizona law specifically provides for honoring valid cards from other states.

The result is that, five months later, the case was dismissed. Okun then filed for return of her property, with a judge ordering its release.

When Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden refused, the judge ordered both sides to submit legal arguments to Bleich.

In what appears to be the first ruling in Arizona of its kind, Bleich specifically rejected arguments by prosecutors that federal laws making possession and distribution of marijuana a crime override the 2010 voter-approved law.

"Congress did not intend to trample on the rights of the state to make their own laws pertaining to illegal drugs and medical marijuana use,' the commissioner wrote earlier this year, "It further implies that state laws pertaining to medical marijuana use can co-exist with federal law without conflict.'

Needless to say, drug warriors do not agree, and say that Bleich's argument does not rectify the problem of mandating an act that is illegal under federal law. The case is now under the Court of Appeals, and the ruling may set a precedent for navigating conflict between state and federal laws.  Until then, Okun -- out 3/4 an ounce of weed --  may be SOL. 

Read more here

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at August 29, 2012, 12:31pm

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