Cali Court to Nosy Cops: Don't Bogart

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Some good news on the Drug War front—a California state appeals court has ruled that the Garden Grove Police Department must return eight grams of pot officers seized from medical marijuana patient Felix Kha during a 2005 traffic stop, because Kha's prescription was legal under state law. As my former colleagues on the L.A. Times editorial board put it,

[T]he court correctly found that in this case federal law did not take precedence over California law. The federal government is perfectly free to seize Kha's marijuana if it chooses, the court found, but medical marijuana is legal in this state and neither the police nor the courts are charged with enforcing federal law. "We would be astonished if prosecutors began filing federal charges in state courts," the court wrote. […]

[T]here is nothing like a polarizing social issue during a period when conservatives hold sway in Washington to convert liberals into champions of states' rights and conservatives into zealous defenders of the federal government. But the court deftly navigated this territory as well. By returning Kha's marijuana, the court wrote, "Garden Grove police will actually be facilitating a primary principle of federalism, which is to allow the states to innovate in areas bearing on the health and well-being of their citizens."

Jacob Sullum blogged about Kha's case back in August.

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  1. Is two year old pot any good?

  2. Depends on how it’s been stored. If they kept in a freezer (doubtful) it’d be fine.

  3. It may have already been “disposed of”.

  4. Wow. That’s a nice little step in the right direction, but I’m not sure it’s on the road to legalization.

  5. The same thing is happening here in Colorado, except the cops have to give back some dead plants. The medical marijuana patients / caregivers had a license to grow but they were moving the plants and so the wrong address was on the certificate and the police busted them for cultivation. Now the judge ordered the police to return all paraphenalia and plants to them stinkin’ hippies (YEA!)

    Since the plants are dead, I think the defendents should sue for the amount the police said the pot was worth on the street.

  6. “Wow. That’s a nice little step in the right direction, but I’m not sure it’s on the road to legalization.”

    Any legal mechanism which forces the prohibitionistas to return stolen property is a good thing!

  7. Is two year old pot any good?

    Properly stored, i.e. frozen in a hermetically sealed container, yes.

    But it probably doesn”t matter. I expect it was long ago “misplaced” in the evidence locker.

  8. Garden Grove has really awful cops. Or at least they used to. Seen a lot of bad stuff in that town, up close too.

    I know it’s like trying to stop a speeding train and everyone who doesn’t live here calls it Cali, but to all us throwbacks to the Stone Age, using the term Cali is sort of like using the term Frisco.

    There’s always a slight cringe.

    Hey! TWC! Shut up you old fool……

  9. Oh, and yes, I know Matt lived in LA….but he DOESN’T ANYMORE! 🙂

  10. Well godbless, the cops are giving the stuff back.

  11. The Washington Post is reporting that the biggest pot settlement ever may be happening soon in Colorado. According to the constitution, police stations will now be required to have grow rooms in their stations. Is it too soon to declare “Mission Accomplished”?

  12. A good friend of mine is awaiting trial right now for possessing 3 plants. he was busted in Sacramento and has a cannabis card, which makes his possession perfectly legal in california. The state is prosecuting him anyway and his lawyer tells him they are trying to make an example of him in order to keep the feds off their back. The DA has been trying to intimidate him into a plea deal but he’s going to trial anyway. Hopefully it will be a similar outcome to this story.

  13. Someone already beat me to it, but I would have asked the court to order the police to pay me at their typical street value price. You know the one where they claim that an ounce of Mexican dirtweed is worth $5,000 on the street.

  14. “””You know the one where they claim that an ounce of Mexican dirtweed is worth $5,000 on the street.”””

    Yeah, then the IRS is charging you tax at that rate. Be careful what you wish for.

    “”””The state is prosecuting him anyway and his lawyer tells him they are trying to make an example of him in order to keep the feds off their back.””””

    His lawyer should ask for a dismissal citing the state appellate court ruling.

  15. The rub is that Cal. State Courts *would* be required to enforce the federal criminal statute, if I remember my Con’ Law correctly.

    The executive branch has much more freedom in which federal policies it chooses to support & we’ll see how CA’s receipt of tax dollars is effected by this choice…

  16. > we’ll see how CA’s receipt of tax dollars is effected by this choice…

    Given that California, with its higher incomes, is a net financer of federal government (vs red states which tend to be net recipients of federal income / welfare), I don’t think Californians are very worried.

  17. | The DA has been trying to intimidate him into a plea deal but he’s going to trial anyway. Hopefully it will be a similar outcome to this story.

    Go to trial, and make sure the jurors know of a thing called “jury nullification“. Read about the history re: slavery and prohibition. There is no reason why a jury trial in California should ever convict anyone in these cases, the federal law is unjust, act accordingly. State’s rights is essential to this country and a part of our constitution, protect it.

  18. Given that California, with its higher incomes, is a net financer of federal government (vs red states which tend to be net recipients of federal income / welfare), I don’t think Californians are very worried.

    Don’t quite get it, do you? California may be a net financer of the fed, but they sure would miss the federal money if it stopped coming back. Say, if the fed quit paying for highways in CA. You’d hear some screaming then, wouldn’t you?

  19. Cool!!! Someone besides me knows about jury nullification!! Now if we can spread the word to the rest of the population, we can take this country back!!!

  20. I gotta move to California.

    -Diana

  21. T-Um, the point there is that Californians pay more Federal taxes than they get back in “stuff”, like Federal money for freeways.

  22. You kidding me? The cops smoked it all two years ago.

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