Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Police Took My Marijuana. Can I Get it Back?

Since the passage of Prop. 63, adults in California may use, possess and cultivate marijuana for their personal use. Despite its legal status, though, marijuana remains highly regulated and controlled. Just like alcohol, individuals may not sell, transport or distribute the substance without the appropriate licenses.

Prior to the adoption of Prop. 63, medical marijuana was governed by a patchwork of state laws and ballot initiatives. Taken together, Prop. 215 (The Compassionate Use Act) and SB-420 (The Medical Marijuana Program Act) provided a lot of protections for Californians who used medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Unfortunately, I still encounter many people who are surprised to learn that those protections don't go as far as they had imagined.

If you're found in possession of a significant amount of marijuana or if you are caught cultivating more than 6 plants at a time, you should expect to be arrested. You should also expect that the police will seize your cannabis and your growing equipment. They will claim that the property is intended for illegal distribution and thus, it is contraband (because, as stated above, commercial marijuana is still highly regulated).

Eventually, the DA might decline to pursue criminal charges against you, or your attorney might successfully petition the court to dismiss those charges. Even after you have been exonerated of any criminal wrong-doing, though, the police might still refuse to return your cannabis and your expensive growing equipment.

That's where I step in.

There is a process in California for obtaining a court order, signed by a judge, directing the local police department to give you back your property if you can prove that you are the lawful owner of the property and the property is not contraband or evidence in a pending criminal case. The property at issue can be a car, a computer, a weapon, a pile of cash, or even your marijuana. Of course, when marijuana is involved, the process is a little more complicated, but don't be discouraged. Our firm has experience in fighting on behalf of cannabis consumers and growers.

A petition for the return of marijuana in California is called a "Kha" motion, named for the case in which the argument was first applied. In order to prevail on your Kha motion, you and your attorney will need to convincingly demonstrate several things.

First, we must show that you are lawfully entitled to possess marijuana. This used to mean proving that your doctor had actually recommended the use of medical marijuana to treat some serious medical condition. Today, it just means that you are over 21 years of age and that the quantity found in your possession was not "excessive".

After we prove that you are authorized to possess or cultivate the quantity that was found in your possession, we must prove that the marijuana is not evidence in any pending criminal case. Even if you are allowed to possess or grow a certain amount, you could still be criminally liable for illegally selling / distributing that marijuana or engaging in some other marijuana-related crime (like manufacturing hash oil without the appropriate permits). Talk to your attorney about any potential risks involved with petitioning for the return of your medicine. By testifying on your own behalf, you could incriminate yourself by admitting that you possessed more than the legal limit or that you were involved with illegal distribution.

If your marijuana is destroyed by police during its seizure or its storage, you may also be entitled to compensation for its fair value.

The fight for marijuana rights in California has been long and hard-fought. For years, seriously ill patients were subjected to imprisonment for using the only medicine that granted them relief. We've come a long way since voters approved medical marijuana in 1996. Cannabis continues to gain acceptance and consumers are winning more protections with each courtroom victory. Unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies refuse to recognize this progress. Some police departments are still trained to believe that cannabis is inherently dangerous. They will cut down your crops, arrest you and take you to jail, understanding that most people simply don't have the time or the resources to assert their rights. Too often, they're right. Don't let them get away with this. If police are running roughshod over your rights, hold them accountable. Take a principled stand, demand the return of your property and let them know that it's time to stop abusing cannabis consumers in California.

If police have seized your medical marijuana, call our office for a free attorney consultation. (714) 449-3335.  Ask for John.

Thanks for reading.

Fullerton Marijuana Lawyer