CA Cops Must Return 60 Pounds of Medical Marijuana

The outcome of legal victories by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) could be seen again last week, when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William Sterling ruled that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) must return sixty pounds of medical cannabis confiscated during a traffic stop. ASA successfully sued the CHP to stop illegal confiscation of medical cannabis in 2005; and secured the right to return of property, regardless of federal law, when the US Supreme Court refused to overturn our victory Garden Grove v. Superior Court in 2008.

The defendant in this week’s case argued he was transporting the confiscated medicine for his collective in Venice. The judge disagreed with an expert witness from the CHP, who argued that only a Primary Caregiver can transport medicine under state law. The judge acknowledged that any member of a collective or cooperative could transport medicine on behalf of other members.

Cities and counties still working to develop and implement regulations for medical cannabis should take note of decisions like this, which acknowledge the broad immunities offered to collectives and cooperatives under the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420). Patients involved in collective cultivation can maintain storefronts to provide medicine to members (and be reimbursed for doing so), grow medicine, possess enough for members, and transport it. Local regulations should respect these collective immunities – not try to roll them back with onerous restrictions.

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