Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jan 2003
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Clutching a big brown bag of marijuana, an asthma 
sufferer who said he uses the drug as medicine walked out of a sheriff's 
station after being allowed to reclaim 15 plants seized from his backyard 
last year.

"I feel justice has been served and it's a good thing," John Watson said 

Watson said he grew the marijuana in a greenhouse for personal use, which 
is permitted under California's 1996 medical marijuana law if a doctor 
recommends it.

Last September, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies received a complaint 
about Watson and seized his plants. He was not arrested.

Prosecutors later determined the marijuana was legal and did not file 
charges, said Watson's lawyer, Allen Weinberg. A court ordered on Jan. 14 
that deputies to return the pot.

Watson, a 30-year-old carpenter, said he may seek damages because the 
estimated 5.7 pounds of pot was dried out and probably useless.

"It's pretty much destroyed," he said. "It was going to be my medicine for 
the next year."

He said medical cannabis groups generally sell the drug for $40 for an 
eighth of an ounce - about the amount Watson uses daily when he is fighting 
attacks. At that price, his seized marijuana would have been worth more 
than $30,000.

Calls to deputies who conducted the investigation were not returned Friday.

Watson said he started a new crop after the plants were taken.

There are no statewide guidelines for the seizure and return of medical 
marijuana under California law, Weinberg said. Some towns have arrested pot 
growers while others have allowed the cultivation of dozens of plants.

He called on state Attorney General Bill Lockyer to come up with uniform 

In recent years, pot seized in six California counties has been returned. 
But in at least four other cases, authorities refused to return the drug.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth