Earlier this week a man was robbed outside of a Denny’s restaurant in Temecula, California. It turns out that the victim is a managing patient with a local medical marijuana delivery service, and the medicine he carried was the target of the robbery.
After being robbed, the victim proceeded to chase the suspects into the next town, where the robbers crashed their vehicle. One of the suspects was arrested at the crash site and the other was taken into custody shortly thereafter. Things went from bad to worse when police took the medical cannabis that the victim was transporting to patients who needed it.
“The marijuana was taken for evidentiary reasons as it is a ‘fruit of the crime,’” Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Spokesperson Sgt. Lisa McConnell said. But lawyers for the delivery service have another point of view.
“There are no longer operational collectives in the Temecula, Murrieta and other surrounding areas at this time,” said Sergio Sandoval, spokesperson for Pappas Law Group. “In response to the sudden closures of these collectives, this collective has been operating a delivery service to provide safe and timely administration of medication to his patients. During a routine delivery process…this managing patient was robbed at gunpoint.
“The police confiscated the patient group’s medication that the managing patient had with him for delivery to patient members. They have now refused to return that medication despite state law—specifically the case of Kha v. City of Garden Grove—that requires the return of that medication so it can be provided to patients,” Sandoval continued.
But the Sheriff’s spokesperson disagrees with Mr. Sandoval. “…The case is still an open investigation,” Sgt. Lisa McConnell said. “The (armed robbery) portion has been referred to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution…We are required by the DA’s office to retain custody of all evidence in a case until the case is adjudicated and the evidence in the case is no longer needed.”
She went on to say the the Kha case didn’t apply since the medical cannabis in that case was not involved in “criminal proceedings.” The criminal proceedings in this case being the robbery.
But what about the sick people who need that medicine? Are they just S.O.L. as the old saying goes? Is the prosecution of the robbery suspects more important than the health of medical cannabis patients?
The thing about medicine is that it is usually a very time-sensitive thing for the patients it is intended for. They can’t wait for the slow gears of the legal system to turn to get what they need, especially when the medicine is as perishable as cannabis can be if it’s not properly stored.
Future medical marijuana law-drafters would be wise to remember situations like this.
- Joe Klare