Tuesday, August 17, 2004

MMJ patients sue state over seized marijuana

Over three dozen medical marijuana patients will be filing motions today in various counties of California for the return of around a million dollars worth of wrongfully seized cannabis. It seems although the use of MMJ has been legal under state law since 1996 the local authorities are still routinely seizing the herb and arresting the patients.

According to California-based Americans for Safe Access, the largest national advocacy group working solely on medical marijuana.

“The law protects these patients,” said the group’s legal coordinator, Kris Hermes. “But we’ve uncovered a culture of resistance within law enforcement. Many agencies across the state just don’t comply with the law. Patients are being arrested or having their medicine seized in nearly every police encounter.”

Ths study, involving more than a hundred patients showed violations of their rights in 62% of the counties in the state. Even more interesting is the estimated cost of these violations in terms of your tax dollars.

The report estimates the cost of an arrest is $732; and the expense of prosecuting one person is $9,250.

“The cost … is unnecessary since law enforcement can choose not to arrest medical marijuana patients,” the report states.

The study found that most law-enforcement agencies in California do not have policies for identifying patients legally entitled to have marijuana. The estimated annual cost of compensating patients whose marijuana is seized is more than $4 million statewide.

Ten thousand a pop for prosecuting sick people. That's just to get them through court. If you incarcerate them, the financial cost rises to astronomical levels. You can't even put a price on the social costs. As Kris Hermes, legal director of ASA said, “Losing their medicine is obviously hard on the patients, but it’s also costing taxpayers money. Better law-enforcement policies or any policies at all, can fix this.”

It's time for the taxpayers to insist that they do.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home