ARIZONA: Medical marijuana patients whose drugs are taken by police are entitled to get it back, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled.
In a brief order, the justices rejected arguments by prosecutors that the drug is strictly regulated by the federal government, leaving police legally powerless to turn marijuana over to anyone else. They gave no reason for their ruling.
The order most immediately affects Valerie Okun, whose drugs were taken from her nearly two years ago on Interstate 8 near Yuma. While she was never prosecuted — she has a valid medical marijuana card from California — sheriff’s deputies refused to return the drugs.
But Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot told Capitol Media Services on Tuesday he’s still not ready to hand over the marijuana. He hopes to get the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
If he succeeds, that could affect more than the immediate question of when police have to return marijuana taken from medical cardholders.
It presents an opportunity for the nation’s high court to look at the obvious conflict between laws in places like Arizona where at least some individuals can buy and have marijuana, and federal statutes which consider possession by anyone other than authorized researchers a felony. And that could pave the way for Supreme Court to finally rule whether states have an inherent right to enact their own marijuana laws.