Pubdate: Tue, 30 Dec 2008
Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2008 San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Author: Sandra T. Molina
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Cited: Americans for Safe Access


Contempt Of Court Charges Filed

LOS ANGELES - Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe 
Access filed legal briefs Monday accusing the city of Montebello of 
contempt of court for refusing to return medical marijuana wrongfully 
seized more than four years ago.

On Oct. 15, 2004, local police seized marijuana plants, growing 
equipment, and personal correspondence from the Montebello home of 
Terry Gene Walker.

Police criminally charged Walker, regardless of his status as a 
medical marijuana patient, said Joe Elford, chief counsel for 
Oakland-based ASA, who is representing Walker in his contempt claim.

Walker's criminal case was dismissed.

In March 2006, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered the 
Montebello Police Department to return all property seized from 
Walker, including 42 marijuana plants, 22 cultivation lamps and 
personal correspondence and books.

"Mr. Walker demonstrated that he lawfully possessed the marijuana at 
issue for his medical use," Elford said.

He said Walker, who suffers from cervical disc degenerative disease, 
presented the Police Department with the court order, but was denied 
the return of his belongings.

Montebello City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman said the Police 
Department took the position against returning an illegal substance.

"Federal law states it is still illegal to possess marijuana," he said.

Under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, seriously ill Californians 
have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes as 
recommended by a physicianwho has determined that the person's health 
would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, 
anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, 
migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.

It also states that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain 
and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a 
physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.

"We are going to file contempt charges against cities and counties 
that run afoul of their obligation under the state's medical 
marijuana law," Elford said. "The indiscretion of cities like 
Montebello will not be tolerated."

In addition to the return of property, Elford is seeking a monetary 
fine and payment of Walker's attorney fees.

Alvarez-Glasman said he will advise his client to defend the filing.

"We still have to review and evaluate the case, but if directed to do 
so, we will diligently defend the city's position," he said.

A date for the hearing has not yet been set.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom