Pubdate: Sat, 18 Nov 2006
Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2006 Knight Ridder
Author: Karl Fischer, Contra Costa Times
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Members of a federal marijuana enforcement team caught a whiff of
something familiar Thursday as they walked to lunch in San Francisco
- -- then confiscated about 2 pounds of pot from a passer-by.

The Drug Enforcement Administration agents were near the Philip Burton
Federal Building at 1:15 p.m. when a man passed them on the 400 block
of Turk Street carrying a cardboard box. The box, emblazoned with the
logo of a common brand of hydroponics equipment, reeked of marijuana.

"These agents were hungry, just on their way out to grab a sandwich,
when this guy walks past them," DEA Special Agent Casey McEnry said.
"They couldn't believe it."

The narcotics agents stopped the man and asked what was in the box. He
showed them about 1.5 pounds of marijuana, 12 ounces of hashish and an
electronic scale.

Then, in a move that apparently stunned the 20-year-old Eureka
resident, the agents took his pot away. While his crime was too minor
to prosecute under federal law, the federal government does consider
marijuana to be contraband, McEnry said.

"He tried to follow them through the employee entrance when they went
back to the federal building. One of the agents looked back at him and
said, 'Hey, where do you think you're going? You need to go through
the metal detector,'" McEnry said.

Realizing the DEA did not intend to return his stash, the man then
called 911 on his cell phone to report the incident to San Francisco

"It sounded like he was questioning their authority," McEnry said.
"They had shown him their identification, but he kept saying, 'They
said they were DEA agents, and they took my marijuana.'"

No officers came to retrieve the marijuana, McEnry

In 1996, California voters approved marijuana as a legal treatment for
some medical ailments. State and local government have begun to
regulate use of the drug, and privately run dispensaries sell the drug
to those with medical prescriptions in cities around the state.

But the federal government considers pot an illegal drug, a position
upheld in a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The man had a medical marijuana card and said he planned to sell the
drugs to the Divinity Tree, a marijuana dispensary, for $4,000 per
pound, agents said. McEnry said the man planned to use the proceeds to
finance a weekend snowboarding trip to Lake Tahoe.
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