Colorado cops cheered in unison upon hearing the Supreme Court’s ruling January 23, declaring that they are no longer obliged to keep confiscated marijuana in compliance with a criminal investigation. Previously, police officers were required to keep and tend to seized marijuana in whichever form, whether it was plants, dry, or prepared form. For years, they have held to this protocol in compliance with a lower court decision that required housing them as part of so-called evidence requirements.
You can imagine the amount of “evidence” the Colorado police have incurred over time, leading to the point where they have complained of needing more space than necessary for the plants and other confiscated marijuana. You can almost imagine the jungle of greens in just one of the police station rooms. This was all due to previous rulings which stated that once citizens who were caught in possession of marijuana win their trial, they may receive their confiscated items back. If you were a notorious weed-grower then, all you had to do was lawyer it up and lawyer it up well.
One vivid example was a man who was brought into custody because he had exceeded the legal limit of 30 marijuana plants. The trial proved that he was a registered marijuana patient and he was given back his plants after the verdict.
While made in good faith, this protocol has only caused more fuss to the caretakers, rather than the original owners. Aside from losing space to store the plants, investigating which plants were acquired through black market weed-growers proved to be tricky since the cops themselves were required to tend and take care of them. It became both inconvenient and unproductive.
After years of observing the protocol, January 23’s ruling had a stronger argument. Although marijuana is now legal in various states, the Controlled Substances Act still considers marijuana third on the Schedule I drug list. That means, it is a drug with the highest potential for abuse, right next to heroin and LSD. According to Colorado Supreme Court Judge Allison Eid, returning the confiscated evidence – whether the accused wins the trial or not – would violate the Controlled Substance Act. In effect, the previous ruling actually put the cops in jeopardy of breaking federal law.
However, a counter-argument was that the police officers were not actually violating any federal law, but instead had a rather “neutral” position, thus immunizing them from any liability – both civil and criminal. It was a close call – 4 to 3 vote – with 4 of the judges supporting the neutral position. The previous lower house ruling was dissolved, and the Supreme Court ruling prevailed, freeing Colorado cops from the requirement of keeping confiscated greens as evidence.
The cops will have to find other ways to develop their green thumb because they are no longer dictated by law to keep growing marijuana in custody. Hopefully, this means more breathing space and more productive time for the police force.
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Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]