California Narcotic Officers’ Association Bent on Increasing Arrests for Under an Ounce of Medical Marijuana

CNOA Cover

October 4, 2014

By Terrie Best – San Diego Chapter – Americans for Safe Access

San Diego, CA – If the California Narcotic Officers’ Association didn’t break your heart as a cannabis patient with their discovered and widely circulated “Marijuana is NOT Medicine” Training Manual, a new article found in their Summer 2014 Newsletter will surly do the trick.

The article, titled “The Latest Medical Marijuana Case Law” focuses on small quantity arrests and how to obtain them using the ever-loosening police right to search your vehicle.  The author of the piece found on Page 6 of “The California Narcotics Officer”, Seth Cimino, is police officer in Citrus Heights, CA. He hints that driver disclosure of a doctor recommendation for medical cannabis could be enough to further a warrantless search and he suggests a number of questions designed to maximize potential harm in courts.  Cimino writes of medical cannabis patients during traffic stops:

“You are more than likely to get cooperation from qualified patients if you use soft words. These people will normally talk to you.”

The article goes on to provide seven questions which, if answered, can be used to aid the prosecution in stripping patients of their medical marijuana defense.  There are also strategies for getting dosage evidence that can potentially help prove patients are medicated during employment hours. If you disclose your cannabis dose to an officer you can expect this strategy, as the article reads:

“Are they using before work, on their lunch break? What do they do for a living? Per 11362.785, an employer may terminate an employee who tests positive for marijuana.”

Virtually all top cops have shown very little respect for the Compassionate Use Act or Senate Bill SB420, both of which provide defenses to patients in court. Recently, Kim Raney of the California Police Chiefs Association called the application of medical marijuana laws “fraudulent” and law enforcement lobbyist John Lovell referred to the CUA as a “giant con job.”

Meanwhile, here in San Diego, our City Attorney’s office is advising the city council through the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee that criminal prosecutions of medical cannabis patients who operate un-zoned storefront co-ops are not panning out. The city is now using civil penalties to pressure landlords of co-ops to evict and penalty fees are racking up in the city coffers.

If the San Diego city attorney says criminal prosecution is not a viable strategy for storefronts why is the CNOA still rallying to help prosecute individual patients? Obviously, patients are not safe if this Russian roulette patchwork of police philosophy remains the only shield of protection in the state.

And, how do patients and advocates respond, beyond the obvious “DON’T talk to the police”?   There are a number of ways to fight back, First, you can join ASA and be sure and check out VoteMedicalMarijuana.org so you are an informed voter.  Additionally, become an informed juror and don’t shirk your jury duty. Encourage others to perform jury duty and make it easy for them to do so.  Check out FIJA.org for more information.

Over the years in San Diego we have seen a decline in criminal prosecutions and vindicated defendants Dennis and Deborah Little are now suing the chief of police and county sheriff in federal court.  Recently, as many as five cases have been dropped here and evidence returned.  In the case of Laura Sharp and SocalPURE, Inc. truckloads of medical cannabis products and grow equipment were returned in front of news cameras.

San Diegans are stopping prosecutions through the court system and it is working.  Unfortunately for smaller towns like Citrus Grove, CA that could be years away.  In the meantime, the only thing you should say to a cop is “Am I free to go, officer?” If you are not free to go, politely say you are going to stay silent and you would like an attorney.

The entire CNOA article can be read here:

San Diego ASA hopes to see you all at the Pot Luck at the Park event on Saturday October 18th from Noon to Dusk. Let us know you’ll be there on the Pot Luck at the Park Facebook Event Page.

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